Motorists honk as they pass protestors with signs next to Hawthorne on Tuesday, Jan 9. “It’s an easy sell,” says Steven Pettigrew (left). (Photo: Amy Reid)

City of Surrey resumes tree-clearing at Hawthorne Park

After protesters blocked work Wednesday, city calls in RCMP and bylaw

Tree clearing has resumed in Surrey’s Hawthorne Park this morning after protesters blocked machinery on Wednesday.

Project manager Victor Jhingan said one protester “trespassed” into the work area Thursday morning, but left of his own accord after authorities spoke to the individual.

“We contacted the necessary authorities to come out and speak with protesters,” Jhingan told the Now-Leader Thursday morning.

“RCMP were able to speak with protesters, along with bylaw staff and asked them to leave on their own accord…. They did mention they could be arrested on mischief if they stayed in the construction area.”

At city hall on Wednesday, Jhingan said the city wouldn’t seek an injuction and instead planned to “engage” protesters.

“We ask and we support that they protest in a safe and peaceful manner outside the construction site,” he said.

See also: VIDEO: Surrey trying to ‘engage’ protesters blocking excavators in Hawthorne Park

See also: Passion of Hawthorne protesters should be celebrated. Here’s why.

Save Hawthorne Park leader Steven Pettigrew said the city made a “pathetic promise” Wednesday when it expressed an intention to “engage” protesters.

“All smoke and mirrors,” Pettigrew said Thursday morning.

Despite that, Pettigrew said protesters will still remain out in “full force.”

“The ‘tree-killer’ machine is going full steam and trees are falling every few minutes,” Pettigrew posted to Facebook Thursday morning. “The bog will be destroyed by the end of the day and the final evaluation report will be finished in a few weeks.”

Today (Jan. 11) will be the third day of protests at the park, as opponents continue to express their disapproval of the tree clearing in preparation for a road through the greenspace.

See related: VIDEO: Hawthorne Park fight not over after judge dismisses bid to halt plans

The road through the park is one portion of the City of Surrey’s 105 Avenue Connector project.

The city’s justification for the connector road is to move utilities off 104 Avenue in preparation for light rail, that it’s been in the city’s Official Community Plan since 1986, and to create an east-west connector to Whalley Boulevard to 150th Street to ease traffic and reduce congestion.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner recently told the Now-Leader that the 105 Avenue Connector Road project will improve access, circulation, and connectivity for the community between City Centre and Guildford, as well as improving the local transportation network.

The City of Surrey has awarded the contract to complete phase one of the Hawthorne Park project to Tybo Contracting Ltd. Phase one of the contract is expected to be finished by Sept. 28, 2018. Estimates show that phase one should cost about $11.25 million.

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