Surrey residents fighting to save their beloved Hawthorne Park are embracing council’s Monday night rejection as their rallying cry.
“We’re more determined than before to stop this road,” vowed Surrey’s Steven Pettigrew, a leader of residents firm against city hall’s plan to run a two-lane road through Hawthorne Park in North Surrey.
“All we need is 35,000 signatures by September 22nd. We’re just filled with resolve.”
“The community’s coming together in great strength.”
Backed by about 100 supporters, residents Pettigrew and Tracie Woodhams appeared as a delegation to council-in-committee to make their pitch to the politicians to have them “examine alternatives to the proposed 105 Avenue corridor project.”
They also presented council with a petition, found at change.org/p/save-hawthorne-park, containing roughly 5,000 signatures.
The petition calls for the proposed 105 Avenue Road, between Whalley Boulevard and 150th Street, to “be cancelled as we do not want a road of any kind put through Hawthorne Park.”
But later Monday night, the audience in council chambers heckled the politicians with denunciations like “shame, shame on you all” after council approved city staff recommendations concerning removal of a 1979 bylaw that would allow the city to move forward with the project.
“The short answer is they couldn’t care less what we had to say,” Pettigrew told the Now-Leader.
“They’re just treating us like nothing,” he said. “This is our park. If they can do it to this park, they can do it to any park.”
The staff report approved by council contains a notice to electors of an “alternative approval process” that would see city council remove Portion of Hawthorne Park, Park Reserve By-law 1979, No. 5812 – that is, unless at least 10 per cent of Surrey’s electors sign a form opposing it, by 4 p.m. on Sept. 22. The estimated number of signatures required is 30,372.
The report notes that the “desire” for a road between Whalley and Guildford parallel to 104th and 108th avenues “was identified in the early 1980s as part of the Whalley-Guildford Town Centre Plan.”
Pettigrew later explained the group will seek 35,000 signatures as a “buffer.”
Woodhams said that while “disappointment was the order of the day,” they “have a force of 100 people ready to hit the streets as soon as we say.
“We have a work force ready to get the job done and we are continuing the war.”
Before the vote, Mayor Linda Hepner said it was “specific only to Hawthorne Park.”
Councillor Vera LeFranc remarked that she lives in the neighbourhood affected.
“That road is going directly behind my home so I will be sharing the burden with you of this new road,” she told the audience. “I do support this.”
Councillor Bruce Hayne, Surrey’s chairman of parks and recreation, said “this whole process is very difficult” but added he’s “reluctantly supportive of this process.”
“It is indeed the job of Solomon,” Hepner replied.