(Photo: Surrey.ca)

Hawthorne Park opponents to deliver 10,000+ signatures to Surrey City Hall

Group says city using ‘loophole’ to build road through Surrey park

A group that opposes city plans to build a road through Hawthorne Park is set to deliver more than 10,000 signatures to Surrey City Hall on Friday.

After delivering a 5,000-name petition to Surrey council in July, opponents were given until Sept. 22 to collect 30,372 signatures in opposition to the project in order to stop the civic government from proceeding with the project.

The Save Hawthorne Group has been collecting Electoral Response Forms over the last several weeks and say in addition to more than 10,000 forms, thousands of responses have been submitted online.

Surrey City Council intends to adopt a bylaw to remove the protected status of Hawthorne Park in October, and opponents say this “loophole” can be used by any local government.

The group claims the Alternate Approval Process being used in Hawthorne Park is in contrary to “council’s commitment to the environment and the people of Surrey.”

Once Hawthorne Park’s protected status is removed, the 105 Avenue Corridor Project through the south end the park will “cause fragmentation of wildlife habitat, destroy a large portion of the forest, and remove an ancient bog,” according to a Save Hawthorne Park media advisory.

Since public opposition began, the City of Surrey made changes to its 105 Avenue Project.

One big change is that one of the two planned roads, the 142 Street connection to 104 Avenue, has been dropped.

The city says other changes include an increase in total parkland by one acre, a net increase of 200 trees, additional environmental habitat areas and new park amenities.

But critics have since increased their efforts to halt to the project.

The Save Hawthorne Park group questions the city’s justification for the road — which so far has been to move utilities off 104 Avenue in preparation for light rail, to connect Whalley Boulevard to 150 Street and that it’s been in the city’s Official Community Plan since 1986.

Last week, a rally outside city hall against the road was attended by more than 200 people, including environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki.

Although Suzuki said he could not comment on the Hawthorne project, he did make note that there was a concern that “bits of nature you have left in the city are going to be cut down for development.”

In discussion with the media, Suzuki took issue with governing bodies not representing their people, but did not specifically mention Surrey.

“We have what I think is called a democracy. And in a democracy we tell the politicians what we want. The problem today is two fold. One is corporations put a lot of money into political campaigns and guess what? Whoever pays the piper calls the tunes. For me, get corporate money out of the political process because they call the shots,” he said.

The signatures are set to be delivered to city hall (13450 104th Ave.) at 3:30 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 21).

For more information, visit savesurreyparks.ca.

-With files from Aaron Hinks