Steven Pettigrew, leader of Save Hawthorne Rotary Park, rallying the troops at Surrey City Hall. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Year in Review: Big battles waged in Surrey in 2017

From a historic provincial election to a fight against a road through Hawthorne Park, many battles were fought this year

The past year saw some major battles fought on several fronts, on the city beat, in public school curriculum and of course the Surrey’s pivotal role in May’s provincial election.

Hawthorne Park in North Surrey was – and still is – the subject of an acrimonious battle after a group of residents working under the banner Save Hawthorne Rotary Park, led by Steven Pettigrew, began fighting city hall’s plan to run a road through the park.

SEE MORE: Emotions high after Surrey approves controversial road through Hawthorne Park

SEE ALSO: Top 10 B.C. videos of 2017

SEE ALSO: Surrey Year in Review: 2017 in photos

homelessphoto

(A rendering of Hawthorne Rotary Park from the City of Surrey.)

Pettigrew’s 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 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.

SEE ALSO: SLIDESHOW: Surrey’s most read stories from 2017

SEE ALSO: Global tragedies hit home in Surrey in 2017

World-renowned environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki and former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum weighed in on the residents’ side.

Prior to council’s vote on the matter, Pettigrew 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,” he said in September.

If that happens, you can be sure a Now-Leader journalist will be there to tell you all about it.

READ ALSO: Opponents vocal as Surrey staff hold public meeting on Hawthorne Park project

SEE VIDEO: ‘Save Hawthorne Park’ group delivers petition to Surrey City Hall — complete with a song

Meantime, Surrey’s decades-old controversy over illegal suites heated up again in 2017 after city hall decided to crack down on the suites after receiving complaints about a dearth of parking in East Clayton.

homelessphoto

In August it sent out notices to 175 homeowners warning them to remove their suites by Jan. 31 on pain of fines or even court actions. This led to a great hue and cry from tenants confronted with eviction in this difficult housing market.

The latest is that city council decided earlier this month to suspend its intention to enforce the notices and directed city staff to develop a city-wide compliance program that’s expected to take about a year to develop.

READ ALSO: Surrey to halt Clayton evictions, legalize illegal suites city-wide

READ ALSO: HOME SUITE HOME: The faces of Clayton’s illegal suite crackdown

Earlier in the year, the May 9 provincial election saw Surrey’s voters divide the city with a jagged crack. The NDP formed government, helped by a post-election alliance with the Green Party, putting an end to 16 years of Liberal governance. Of Surrey’s nine ridings, the NDP took six and the Liberals, three.

The northwest portion of Surrey is NDP orange, and the southeast, Liberal red.

While some ridings predictably go left or right in any given election in this politically polarized city, the May 9 election roughly split the city in half.

homelessphoto

(Surrey-Whalley NDP MLA Bruce Ralston watches the election results roll in on May 9. Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Liberal Marvin Hunt was elected in Surrey-Cloverdale, which has been a Liberal outpost since its creation in 1991. Stephanie Cadieux won Surrey South for the Liberals, while Surrey-White Rock — held by Liberal MLA Gordon Hogg for 10 years before he retired from provincial politics — once again elected a Liberal, Tracy Redies.

READ ALSO: ELECTION 2017: Surrey — a city divided

SEE ALSO: Boa constrictors, peacocks and other Surrey critters of 2017

Of Surrey’s ridings, the Surrey-Whalley re-elected NDP MLA Bruce Ralston. That riding has been a solid NDP riding with the exception of Liberal MLA Elayne Brenzinger (2001-05). Surrey-Green Timbers sent the NDP’s Rachna Singh to Victoria.

The NDP’s Harry Bains was re-elected in Surrey Newton. Surrey-Panorama also elected an NDP MLA, Jinny Sims. The NDP’s Jagrup Brar defeated Liberal cabinet minister Peter Fassbender in Surrey-Fleetwood, and the new riding of Surrey-Guildford saw the NDP’s Garry Begg defeat another Liberal cabinet minister, Amrik Virk.

In the wake of the election, three Surrey MLAs became cabinet ministers: Ralston is minister of jobs, trade and technology; Bains is minister of labour and Sims is minister of citizens’ services.

And finally, in October, a group called Parents United Canada filed an “urgent” human rights complaint after the Surrey school district refused to rent it space to hold a rally, in the Bell Performing Arts Centre in Newton, aimed at stopping a controversial curriculum program called SOGI 123.

READ ALSO: Opponents of LGBTQ program to file human rights complaint against Surrey School District

READ ALSO: Boa constrictors, peacocks and other Surrey critters of 2017

homelessphoto

(Surrey school district spokesman Doug Strachan and SOGI opponent Kari Simpson. Photo: Now-Leader)

The program, according to sogieducation.org, “equips educators of all backgrounds and experiences with tools and resources for supporting marginalized LGBTQ students and for creating safer and more inclusive school environments for all students.”

Kari Simpson, president of a group called Culture Guard, denounced it as a “political program, brainwashing students” and circumventing parental notification.

Her group lodged a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, based on Section 8 of the BC Human Rights Code. It has not yet been resolved.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Surrey-area associations gear up for hockey restart

But it’s not yet clear when city-operated rinks and rec centres will reopen

Proposed Marine Drive zone aims to make use of small lots ‘more efficient’

CR-3A zone discussed during White Rock’s first virtual public information meeting

Rugby practices to return to Lower Mainland fields this fall

B.C. Rugby announced its return to play plan July 7

White Rock calls for street-banner artists

Deadline to apply is 4 p.m. July 24

Surrey Mounties seize shotgun, ammo, after officers shot at with BB gun in Newton

Police say they were on foot patrol in the 6400-block of King George Boulevard when someone fired at them with a BB gun

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Investigation clears RCMP in incident where man fell from Langley overpass

‘Officers acted commendably and placed themselves at risk’ police watchdog report finds

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Rural Chilliwack residents asked to stay indoors, lock doors amid heavy police presence

Heavy police presence in rural Chilliwack neighbourhood as RCMP contend with ‘serious situation’

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Most Read