'We're not willing to allow it to happen': Save Hawthorne Park group pushes on in Surrey

'We're not willing to allow it to happen': Save Hawthorne Park group pushes on in Surrey

Surrey residents opposed to a two-lane road running through one of the city's parks will be at city hall Monday night to hear the results of a failed petition to stop the project.

"The city just totally ignored the citizens en masse and is just proceeding without any meaningful consultation," said Steven Pettigrew with the group Save Hawthorne Park.

During the summer, the City of Surrey voted in favour of removing Hawthorne Park's protected status so the road could be built through its southern portion.

The goal of the 105 Avenue corridor project is to reduce congestion along 104 Street and lay the groundwork for future Light Rail Transit.

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 — must sign and submit an elector response form, within 30 days, opposing the adoption of the bylaw.

On Thursday, Surrey's city clerk published a report stating only slightly more than 11,000 signatures were received, meaning the bylaw may proceed.

The report will be presented to council Monday night. After that, councillors can approve the bylaw if they choose.

"It's very disappointing," said Pettigrew.

He calls the AAP unfair and wants other residents in municipalities across B.C. to watch out for its use. He argues that it does away with meaningful consultation.

"It's a procedure that shouldn't be used," he said. "This should actually be done away by the MLAs and they're ignoring this as well."

The city did amend its plans after hearing from residents at a public meeting in June.

There will now be a net increase in total parkland space by one acre. Two hundred trees are also set to be added, along with additional habitat areas and other amenities.

City councillors like Mike Starchuck described public consultations on the project as extensive. 

Still, Pettigrew says his group is not happy and not about to give up.

Around 50 people are expected at city hall on Monday, and Pettigrew hopes to make the issue part of next year's municipal election.

"Yes we do have some 150 people who are willing to chain themselves together and hang onto the trees in front of the tractors," he said.

"So that's not going to look good on their election."

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