Construction of a controversial roadway through Bear Creek Park in Surrey will begin immediately, according to Mayor Doug McCallum, after a judge dismissed a petition seeking to prevent the project from going ahead.
"The City of Surrey will be immediately proceeding on building the 84th Avenue extension after the B.C. Supreme Court decision today that the City of Surrey is well within its rights to proceed," said McCallum in a press release.
The petition, brought by community group Force of Nature, opposes the extension on environmental grounds, saying green space and wildlife habitat will be destroyed and two salmon-bearing streams that run through the park will be harmed.
The group is also critical of what it considers a lack of meaningful community consultation on the project.
"We're bloodied but unbowed. Tomorrow, we're going to continue on with our regular [weekly] traffic protests and we'll be doing that into the foreseeable future," said Force of Nature's Sebastian Sajda.
"Of course we're going to be taking this issue into the next election and make sure the preservation of parkland and trees is an issue in the next election."
The corridor project will push 84th Avenue through the south end of Bear Creek Park from King George Boulevard to 140th Street at a cost of $18 million, with modifications to BC Hydro transmission lines estimated to cost millions more.
The Safe Surrey Coalition majority voted together at city council in July to approve the project, five to four.
McCallum said the extension is necessary because of heavy traffic congestion at 88th Avenue and King George Boulevard.
"For many years, this has been Surrey's most dangerous intersection when it comes to motor vehicle collisions. The 84th Avenue extension will provide a safe, convenient and reliable alternative connection between Newton and Fleetwood that will alleviate pressure at the aforementioned junction," he said.
The idea of extending the road through the park has been kicked around in Surrey for well over a decade. A first attempt to build a road was abandoned in 2007 after community opposition. In 2013, city council voted against a second proposal.
In his statement, McCallum claims, "over that time, countless accidents, injuries and even fatalities have occurred because of a complete lack of leadership."
But Sajda said those pushing the extension have been overstating traffic problems by using statistics taken from before major upgrades were made at the 88th Avenue and King George intersection five years ago.
He said despite losing in court, his group will remain active around issues of a temporary salmon culvert that's been installed, tree falling, and pushing for more information about who's on the hook for moving of the BC Hydro towers.
"It's expected to cost quite a few million dollars to do that, maybe up to $10 million," he said. "It's not really clear who is going to be paying for that."