The Friends of Bear Creek Park group is taking legal action to stop the construction of a new road through Bear Creek Park in Surrey. B.C.
In a petition to the B.C. Supreme Court it asks that its injunction to halt the project be heard as soon as possible.
The court action is in response to the city's recent approval of an extension to 84th Avenue from King George Boulevard to 140th Street.
It is expected to cost nearly $18 million for construction and park improvements which include road, cycling and pedestrian pathways.
For years, there has been just one east-west arterial road available to drivers travelling through the heart of the city between 96 Avenue and 72 Avenue: the congested 88 Avenue thoroughfare.
The quieter 84 Avenue also runs east-west, but stops for several blocks to accommodate the south end of the park.
The idea of extending the road to connect through the park has been entertained in Surrey for more than a decade. Council voted in February to revisit the idea, setting off months of opposition from people concerned about protecting green space in a rapidly growing city and preserving wildlife habitats that exist in the park.
Environmental groups like Friends of Bear creek and Force of Nature say they are concerned about its costs and environmental consequences.
"The road is far from a done deal," said Sebastian Sajda, an organizer with Friends of Bear Creek Park, "and we intend to mount a vigorous legal challenge to the city that will set a precedent for park protection in British Columbia."
The petition seeks a permanent injunction restraining the City of Surrey from constructing the road or "any similar highway in a manner which encroaches on the impacted properties in any way, without obtaining the assent of electors to the same via a public referendum."
The environmental groups argue the land should only be used for park purposes and should not be built without a public referendum.
"We say that the lands that are to be impacted by the road .. .are either parkland and protected by statute, or that there's a public trust over the land that requires the lands only be used for park purposes," said Kevin Smith, a lawyer for Friends of Bear Creek Park.
The City of Surrey declined to comment saying the matter is now before the court.