Phase one of the 105 Avenue Connector Road project is set to begin on Jan. 8 at Surrey’s Hawthorne Park. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Surrey woman asks B.C. Supreme Court to halt city’s Hawthorne Road project

Petition filed in court Friday says controversial plan violates Species at Risk Act and Wildlife Act

SURREY — A Surrey woman filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court Friday asking the court to halt the City of Surrey’s controversial plan to build a road through Hawthorne Park.

Roslyn Cassells says the city, with its 105 Avenue Road connector project, has failed to survey and identify species in the north Surrey park and take steps to protect them. Thus, her petition reads, the city’s contentious project violates the Species at Risk Act and B.C. Wildlife Act.

“The city just released their draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report to the public on Dec. 20. I and many others have serious concerns about the report,” Cassells’ petition reads.

Stephen Pettigrew, left, and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. (Now-Leader file photos)

“The final report has not yet been released and the city has said they will release it to the public in mid or late January, after the destruction of possible critical habitats and endangered, threatened, and of special concern species are killed.

“For this reason I ask the court to halt construction on this project until such time as the City obeys their duties under SARA and the BC Wildlife Act and surveys for the presence of Species At Risk and their habitats and provides them with the protections they are entitled to under federal and provincial laws.”

Furthermore, Cassells, a former Vancouver parks commissioner, says she is appalled at the “disregard” the City of Surrey has shown towards environmental protection.

“As usual,” she said, “city council is running roughshod over the lives of the most vulnerable members of our society – in this case it is the animals – all to please their developer friends who want this road, and in violation of the will of over 11,000 Surrey residents opposed to the project.”

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.

Hepner insisted that the size of Hawthorne Rotary Park will not be diminished by the project.

“In fact, as part of the 105 Avenue Connector project, the City has been actively working on acquiring new lands to preserve as parkland, including high quality bio-diverse properties adjacent to the existing park,” Hepner said. “The land acquisitions will grow Hawthorne Rotary Park by more than one acre over its current size and add more than 200 new and substantial trees to the park.”

Meanwhile, a group called Save Hawthorne Rotary Park, led by Steven Pettigrew, has been fighting city hall’s plan to run a road through the park since its conception. The group presented council with a 5,000-signature petition in July calling for the proposed 105 Avenue Road between Whalley Boulevard and 150 Street to be cancelled.

“We want Hawthorne Park to be preserved for community, for future generations and for the wildlife living there,” the group’s petition read.

In response, council challenged the petitioners with an “Alternative Approval Process” requiring them to collect by Sept. 22 the signatures of at least 10 per cent of Surrey’s electors – 30, 372 signatures – in opposition to the plan or council will take further steps to ensure the project gets done. The effort fell short, with the residents collecting 12,244 signatures, and in November council approved the controversial road project.

Pettigrew recently told the Now-Leader that members of his group are prepared to block bulldozers, if it comes to that.

“We do have hundreds of people that have committed to standing in front of the tractors.”

Finally, 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 start on Jan. 8, wrapping up on Sept. 28, 2018.

Estimates show that phase one should cost about $11.25 million.

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