No road through park without new playing field, says Surrey School Board

The Surrey Board of Education says it won’t allow the city to to build a road through a popular park until city staff find a safe new place for students to play at a nearby elementary school.

The Surrey Board of Education says if Hjorth Elementary doesn't get a new field, the city can't build a road

A proposed road through Hawthorne Park in Guildford would cut through a field Hjorth Road Elementary School students use to play. (Surrey Board of Education)

The Surrey Board of Education says it won't allow the city to to build a road through a popular park until city staff find a safe new place for students to play at a nearby elementary school.

Board Chair Shawn Wilson says the proposed road would run through the middle of the field students use behind Hjorth Road Elementary, which is located on 104 Avenue near 147 Street.

"We looked at the proposal and the drawings and it's quite a significant portion of the property," Wilson said.

"I met with the mayor and I indicated to her that the board needed a playing field, and we're not going to allow any roads to go through there until the field is replaced. Basically, the ball is in their court."

Mayor Linda Hepner says the city has been aware of the issue for a long time and is working to resolve it.

"We've been talking since early spring," she said.

"We would certainly be providing to the school a new and improved playground. We'll be delivering not only a new playing field but the cost of replacing and improving the road safety around that school."

Long term concerns

The Surrey Board of Education is also concerned about plans to build an LRT station near the school.

Wilson says if the 105 Avenue Corridor Project goes ahead and the new station is built at the corner of 148 Street and 104 Avenue, Hjorth Elementary will no longer be safe for students.

"We cannot have a school surrounded by three arterial roads with a light rail transit station right in front of it," he said.

"The city will have to amalgamate some property and get us a site that the school board would agree to and build us a new school."

Wilson says the city should also have to pay for the construction of the new school at its new location.

"I can tell you that school would be down the road needing to be replaced in some fashion in any event," Hepner said.

"How that happens is still up for discussion. It's too early to talk about how that might play out, whether that's built on land costs, leasing or the actual method that will actually need to be achieved is a little too early to speculate."

Members of the group Save Hawthorne Park present signed forms to the city clerk's office at Surrey City Hall. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Project opposition

The snag with the school board is just the latest challenge the city has faced with the 105 Avenue Corridor Project, which would run through Hawthorne Park.

A group called Save Hawthorne Park has collected signatures from more than 12,000 people who are opposed to the plan.

The group presented boxes of signed forms to the city clerk's office at City Hall last week and vowed to keep putting pressure on council to kill the project.

Hepner says no firm decisions have been made on whether the road will proceed.

"We're still in the process of this public decision making process and may be that the public doesn't wish to have an east-west connection and we'll have to rejig our plans," she said.

"I have to let all that play out first before I can say definitively this is what we're doing."