A photo of Hawthorne Park after tree-clearing. (Photo: Kim Waite)

Surrey residents mourn tree loss in Hawthorne Park

Opponents hold vigil to ‘grieve loss and devastation’ of hundreds of trees

SURREY — Residents are mourning the loss of hundreds of trees in Hawthorne Park.

The city cut down approximately 450 trees last week in preparation for a road through the greenspace, wrapping up on Saturday.

“Every single tree and shrub between the two construction fences are down,” Save Hawthorne Park leader Steven Pettigrew told the Now-Leader Monday morning.

“It looks like the type of clear cut that you see on the mountains after a lumber company has been through.”

See also: City of Surrey resumes tree-clearing at Hawthorne Park

On social media, residents report being able to see 104th Avenue and nearby condos from the park’s playground, a view previously blocked by forest.

A vigil for the trees was held by opponents on Saturday to “grieve the loss and devastation of one of our communities most significant naturally occurring indigenous lands that housed our neighbourhood bog and thousands of creatures that have either been killed or lost their home” according to an event invitation.

Pettigrew estimated about 30 people attended the vigil.

“We shared stories, many people brought food and we spent several hours decompressing from the campaign and coming to terms with what has happened,” said Pettigrew. “Many people from the community dropped by and there was a real community spirit.”

Pettigrew said members of the Save Hawthorne Park group are “taking a short break and changing gears.”

“We are not finished by a long shot and will be making an announcement in a few weeks when all our plans are finalized,” he added.

The project is proceeding despite more than 11,000 Surrey citizens formally voicing their disapproval, an attempt in court to halt it, and a protester blocking machinery from tree-clearing and delaying work by a day.

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

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

Pettigrew said despite clear cutting, the city still hasn’t “got all their ducks in order.”

According to Pettigrew, the city still has three properties to expropriate in order to build the completed 105 Avenue connector road, and details about replacing the Hjorth Road Elementary school’s field – which the planned road would cut through – have yet to be solidified.

“And there’s still three properties at the north end of Hawthorne Park they want to buy,” he added.

See also: Emotions high after Surrey approves controversial road through Hawthorne Park

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

In response, Project Manager Victor Jhingan said the project is being implemented “on a phased construction approach, as we would with any large project of this scope.”

“The city has secured the necessary land required for the current phase of construction between 140th Street and 144th Street, and we are actively negotiating with property owners, including the School District, for the remaining land needed for subsequent phases of the project,” added Jhingan.

While the city says it’s taking down about 200 large trees, opponents claim the total count is more like 2,000.

“The tree count (of 200) is based on the Surrey’s Tree Protection By-law which identifies trees that are at least 30 centimetres in diameter at chest height,” said Jhingan.

“This is a common practice amongst municipalities in identifying tree removal, and is applied consistently to any homeowner, developer or the City itself when tree removal is proposed,” he continued.

“The trees that are being removed in Hawthorne Park have been assessed by an independent arborist are primarily in poor health and are not long lasting trees. Additionally, approximately 250 additional trees will be removed from the park for the park improvement works. It is important to note that as part of our mitigation plan, the project is acquiring over five acres of adjacent biodiverse natural areas, adding a net increase of one acre of parkland and resulting in a net increase of 200 trees in the expanded park area.”

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’s Engineering Communications Manager Rosemary Silva told the Now-Leader on Monday that while tree-felling was essentially complete on Saturday, a few more trees in Hawthorne Park will require hand-cutting and will be cut down in the coming days.

“Earthworks and ground preparation for the road will begin once the site has been cleared,” she said. “While much of the public attention has focused singularly on the required tree removal within the Park, it’s important to recognize that this project is much larger in scope. It will deliver a two-lane multi-modal collector road between Whalley Boulevard and 150th Street to serve the access and connectivity needs of the growing community between City Centre and Guildford Town Centre.”

She said the new 105 Avenue collecter road “complements work currently underway” on nearby arterial roads, such as capacity improvements along 100th Avenue with its widening from a two-lane road to a four-lane arterial standard, as well as improvements along 108th Avenue, both of which will reduce traffic congestion on 104th Avenue.

Silva said the improvements aims to “strike a balance between the area’s growing transportation demands, plans for sustainable development in City Centre and along 104 Avenue, as well as delivering improved amenities within Hawthorne Park through $6 million in committed investments.”

Silva said park improvements will include new environmental and biodiversity features, a relocated parking area which increases natural space within the park for picnics and play, a new waterpark and all ages playground, as well as new park access points, walking trails, pedestrian paths and cycle tracks.

“Within the Park, the City has designed a customized road corridor which reduces the overall road footprint and includes enhancements such as noise attenuating pavement to reduce noise levels,” she added. “It also provides for maximized boulevard design for large street tree growth, above-standard space for cyclists and pedestrians, and new Park access points for neighbours.”

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.

With files from Beau Simpson

Just Posted

Vaisakhi parade to fill Surrey streets Saturday: Everything you need to know

More than 500,000 people expected for one of the world’s largest Vaisakhi-related events

Surrey’s Vaisakhi Parade: A procession guide, starting with Sikh Riders

Parade to include more than 2,500 participants representing 20-plus community organizations

VAISAKHI EXPLAINED: Founding of the Khalsa was a seminal event in Sikh history

There are five K’s – articles of faith – worn by baptized Sikhs

Vaisakhi voices in Surrey: What does Vaisakhi mean to you?

‘Vaisakhi is fundamentally about community, progress and celebration’

Setting the stage for emerging performers

Variety fundraiser and ongoing open-mics showcase local talent

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Parents say Austrian climber missing in Banff National Park ‘lived his dream’

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and American climber Jess Roskelley have been missing since Wednesday

Most Read