The truth is out there, as they say.
A leader of a citizens’ campaign to stop the City of Surrey’s plan to cut two roads through Hawthorne Park says the residents are not being given the tools they need to meet the city’s demand that they collect 30,372 signatures from Surrey residents.
That’s roughly 10 per cent of Surrey’s electors.
They need the signatures by Sept. 22 to stop city council from removing a 1979 bylaw that would enable the city to proceed with the controversial project.
A vocal group of residents last week presented council with a petition containing 5,000 signatures asking city council to cancel its plan to build a 105 Avenue corridor road through the park, connecting Whalley Boulevard and 150th Street. Following that meeting, council replied with the request for 30,372 signatures by Sept. 22.
Steven Pettigrew, a leader of the citizen’s group, said afterward that this move by council steeled the petitioners’ resolve to stop the project.
That was last week. On Monday, Pettigrew told the Now-Leader that city hall had not yet provided his group with the information they require to gather the required signatures.
The city’s website states that the period that elector forms will be available will begin Aug. 11 and will be available at city hall and at surrey.ca. Those who support the removal of the bylaw won’t have to submit a form.
“We’re still waiting for the city to give us the go-ahead to start this process,” Pettigrew said Monday. “They’re just railroading us and stonewalling us at every chance they get. The form is not ready yet. I haven’t heard how it’s going to be available to us. We saw an initial sample of the form in the corporate report. Whether or not we can use that, we don’t know, because everybody’s gone on vacation now, and now we’re trying to get information from them and it’s ‘Oh, you have to wait for this.’”
Meanwhile, the clock’s ticking.
“That’s a great strategy, you know, ‘Here you go, see you in a month,’ and no one’s around. So that’s a real challenge.”
Pettigrew also claimed a corporate report presented to city council on July 24 “is not giving the council all the details and all the information they need.
“The information that is being presented to council is not complete information, so the city staff is not giving them all the facts they need to make a proper decision, this is the point that we’re trying to get across to them. They’re just not listening to us because the engineers are just focused on the road, that’s all they can think of is the road, and the council is just making a decision based on what’s been given to them.”
Meantime, Mayor Linda Hepner has penned a letter to editor of the Now-Leader, seeking to “dispel some of the information that has been circulating.
“The size of Hawthorne Rotary Park will not be diminished by this project,” she wrote.
She also notes in her letter that “whatever the outcome of the alternative approval process, the result will affect Hawthorne Rotary Park only.”
Asked why the residents must wait until Aug. 11 to be able to access the forms required to gather signatures, Hepner told the Now-Leader on Monday, “I don’t know the answer to that question. So that’s probably a question for the city clerk because it’s their process.
“I think it was more in time in terms of making sure that we got well into September so those who are away on holiday will certainly have the opportunity to respond.”
City Clerk Jane Sullivan said Monday the forms will be ready for the public this week, “as soon as I get just the right map, nice and clean and crisp and clear. It’ll be this week – I’m just waiting on the map and then we can do it. I just need to get that last piece of the puzzle.
As for the Aug. 11 date posted on the website, Sullivan noted, “the legislation says that that’s when they’re to be up but there’s nothing that says they can’t be a little bit early, and I know people want it. Anyway, we’re working really hard to make sure that everything is clear and clean and it has all the right information.”