A group of residents vowing to fight construction of a greenway behind their Fleetwood homes showed up in numbers to a public information meeting last month to make their feelings known to the city.
Eighty-six residents attended the Nov. 15 at Fleetwood’s William Watson School at 16450 80 Ave. – a substantial turnout for a project of this scope.
At the top of their concerns is that paving a path along 78 Avenue from about 156 to 168 Streets will increase crime in the neighbourhood.
The city has just posted its rebuttal to the concerns online.
“It seems counter-intuitive but the actual experience on existing greenways in Surrey and throughout North America does not support this concern,” a planning report posted on the city’s website states. “In fact, the construction of greenways, trails and pathways generates use by community members who are on the path for legitimate reasons. Although unsavory activities may occur anywhere at any time, there appears to be no correlation between greenway routes and crime or bad behaviour.”
The Surrey RCMP, city staff say, have backed up that claim.
Another issue raised at the public information session involved the environment.
The proposed pathway will cross at least two creeks that feed the salmon-bearing Serpentine River.
The city says in its response that it will take every measure to mitigate any damage from the pathway’s creation.
“Where impacts cannot be avoided at greenway creek crossings, the city will undertake mitigation procedures to compensate for the impacts on riparian areas,” the staff response says.
Fleetwood resident Leanne Husdon Hopkins told The Leader in October she and fellow residents also fear an influx of graffiti.
Surrey staff say graffiti will be less likely if the path is built and the area is well travelled.
“The development of a greenway path in the corridor will increase the number of eyes on the area and improve surveillance. Someone standing to the side of the pathway will seem unusual. It is anticipated that graffiti will not increase and may, in fact, become less prevalent than it is today,” the staff report says.
The Fleetwood pathway is one small portion of a large greenway master plan which will connect parks and greenspaces with pathways throughout the city.
The city has already built 75 kilometres of the 350 kms of planned greenways throughout Surrey. The city is currently constructing the connectors at a rate of about four kilometres per year.
The Fleetwood link will connect with the Surrey Lake Greenway at 156 Street and the Coast Meridian Greenway along 168 Street.
A report that summarizing issues and concerns associated with the Fleetwood Greenway with recommendations will be considered by the city’s transportation committee in early 2013.
Information updates will be posted on the city’s website on a regular basis at http://www.surrey.ca/plans-strategies/12518.aspx.