Surrey staff report endorses 2-lane road through park

A report by Surrey city staff advises councillors to approve a controversial plan to build a two-lane road through a popular park.

Councillors will vote on controversial project Monday night, protest expected

Hawthorne Park in Surrey is about 22 hectares in size. Some local residents don't want the park altered to make way for a two-lane road. (Larry Lindner/Facebook)

A report by Surrey city staff advises councillors to approve a controversial plan to build a two-lane road through a popular park.

Those against the project have said they are willing to egage in civil disobedience to stop it.

The goal of the 105 Avenue corridor project is to reduce congestion along 104 Street and lay the groundwork for a proposed light rail transit system.

How the proposed road would divide Hawthorne Park. (City of Surrey)

To do that, the city must approve a bylaw, which would remove some of Hawthorne Park's protected status.

Hawthorne Park is about 22 hectares in size and advocates for its protection say it's home to several species of birds and other types of wildlife.

The city report says if the city does not approve the bylaw and project, the result will be an "inadequate transportation network."

The report recognizes that some residents are not in favour of the project.

"It is understood that moving forward with the project as recommended may be perceived negatively by some residents," it says.

The report advises the city to continue to communicate changes that have been suggested to make the project more palatable.

Those changes include a net increase in the size of the park by two hectares and $3 million for additional amenities and enhancements for the park.

Those opposed to proposed road were disppointed with the report.

"I'm just really, really in shock," said Steven Pettigrew, leader of Save Hawthorne Park.

Pettigrew says the report does not reflect residents' opposition. "This is just pushing through whatever they want, if they decide to do it," he said.

Alternate Approval Process

Surrey used a piece of legislation from the Community Charter called the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) to move forward on the project.

Under the rules, 10 per cent of residents — more than 30,000 in this case — had to sign and submit an elector response form, within 30 days, opposing the adoption of the bylaw.

Surrey's city clerk published a report stating just over 11,000 signatures were received, meaning the bylaw may proceed.

Pettigrew says the AAP should never have been used for for the project because he argues it does away with meaningful consultation and not enough people learned about it in time to sign it.

He is now urging people to attend the council meeting Monday, when city politicians are expected to vote on the project.

He says dozens of people in the group are prepared to chain themselves to trees at the park to try and stop the road going through.

Roadwork construction for the project could begin as early as January.