SURREY — When she grew more and more concerned about how Green Timbers Urban Forest is “under threat from a thousand cuts,” Linda Prai did what she knows best.
She played piano.
In a kind of musical protest on a recent Tuesday afternoon, Prai, a piano teacher, performed on a keyboard brought to a forest path, near the parking lot off 100th Avenue, and she set up again in a field at Surrey Nature Centre that evening.
The serene music she played only added to the relative tranquility of the park, which is threatened by proposed road widening and development.
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“I’m just trying to raise awareness of hey, you know, we have this wonderful Stanley Park of Surrey, why are we chipping away at it bit by bit?” Prai, who lives nearby, told the Now prior to what she called an “unconcert” in the forest.
As she performed, members of Green Timbers Heritage Society distributed flyers detailing the proposed widening of both 100th Avenue and Fraser Highway.
The group is also concerned about development plans for a parcel of land in the northwest corner of the “square mile” of Green Timbers, off 140th Street. There, the city wants to build a complex of shelters, care facilities, housing, offices and a bio-energy facility.
The widening of 100th Avenue will “isolate the northern bit” of the forest even more, the group claims. Even worse, they say, Fraser Highway could one day expand greatly in order to accommodate more lanes for traffic, public transit, pedestrians and cyclists.
“We’re very concerned that the forest is becoming fragmented, and Fraser Highway could be three times the width it is now,” said Ellen Edwards, a director of the heritage society.
“We feel maybe they can widen it somewhere else, not through the forest,” she said.
(PICTURED: Annie Kaps directs motorists on 100th Avenue to website with online petition.)
Fellow group member Deanna Welters agrees, and also worries about the erosion of greenspace in the park.
“Nature doesn’t happen, bang, overnight the way the trees fall overnight, so when you put an edge to a forest, the forest naturally grades its own edge over decades and centuries,” she said. “And if you trim that, those root systems, those borderline ecosystems are different from the interior forest. The damage will be far greater than what’s visible immediately. The degradation begins there.”
Edwards has deep roots in the forest, so to speak.
“My father was one of the planters of this forest during the 1930s, and he was very active when they started up the Green Timbers Heritage Society to do the trails and get things going, so I’ve been carrying on that passion,” she said. “I’ve watched this place grow from little trees to great big tall ones over the years.”
The society urges those concerned by development pressures on the park to sign a petition, posted at Savegreentimbers.ca.
During Prai’s “unconcert,” passersby could also detail in writing, on a sheet of cardboard, their favourite aspects of the forest.
“I’m betting nobody writes that we need more cars and wider roadways here,’” Prai said.