SURREY — Today is when the rubber meets the road.
Proposed road, that is, figuratively speaking. Today (Friday) marks the deadline imposed by Surrey City Hall for residents opposed to a controversial proposal to run two roads through North Surrey’s Hawthorne Rotary Park to produce 30,372 signatures to stop city hall from removing a 1979 bylaw that would enable the city to proceed with the project.
If city council does proceed with the proposal, said Steve Pettigrew, leader of Save Hawthorne Rotary Park, he vowed that the dirt will hit the fan, to use another hackneyed phrase.
“We do have hundreds of people that have committed to standing in front of the tractors,” he told the Now-Leader on Wednesday. “I’ve already talked to the RCMP, I know what our legal rights are, I’m on good terms with them. People have got their trees picked out, they’re bringing their lawnchairs, the little children are coming along, the elderly people are coming along, and we’re going to link arms, chain ourselves, and be there in front of the tractors.
“We’re only going to do that if they decide to put the road through. If the petition fails, then we’re just going to wait and see what they do. I expect that they will listen,” Pettigrew said. “I can’t see how they’re going to stand against this. They’re there to represent the people, and the people are speaking. It’s not just a few of us, it’s thousands and thousands of us.”
In July the group presented council with a 5,000-signature petition calling for the proposed 105 Avenue Road between Whalley Boulevard and 150 Street to “be cancelled as we do not want a road of any kind put through Hawthorne Park. We want Hawthorne Park to be preserved for community, for future generations and for the wildlife living there.”
In response, city council challenged them with an “Alternative Approval Process” requiring them to collect by Sept. 22 the signatures of at least 10 per cent of Surrey’s electors – that’s 30,372 signatures – in opposition to the plan or council will take further steps to ensure the project gets done.
Pettigrew is expected to deliver the yet unknown tally of signature forms to City Hall, in his van, to meet today’s 4 p.m. deadline.
“It’s actually quite amazing, I’m watching this city come alive,” he said Wednesday. “People all over the city, they’re waking, what’s going on here, what’s going on here, how can I get involved. It’s really exciting to see that. Our front line people are out there and they’re getting hundreds of signatures a day.”
Should the campaign fail, and city council proceeds with the project, Pettigrew says the group will continue to apply pressure on the politicians.
“If someone decides they want to go against the people with this much opposition, they do not deserve to hold office,” he said.
“And we’re going to make sure we’re going to do everything that we can to dog them during their campaign and remind people of how they treated the people of Surrey.”