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Protesters rally against plan for road through Hawthorne Park

Some of those at the Save Hawthorne Park rally in Surrey. (Hana Mae Nassar, NEWS 1130, Photo)

Environmentalist David Suzuki has joined more than 100 people at the Save Hawthorne Park rally in Surrey

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – More than 100 people have gathered to speak out against the City of Surrey’s plan to build a road through a local green space.

Those attending the Save Hawthorne Park rally say the city is ignoring what the majority wants, and plan to present thousands of signatures at an upcoming vote.

“Everything in our land and around us has spirit and we have to take care of those spirits,” says Hereditary Chief Marilyn Gabriel with the Kwantlen First Nation.

Members say they don’t want to lose a piece of their history, and have the support of environmentalist David Suzuki.

He says he has a duty to stand up for the environment, as well as the future.

“I have a responsibility for them as a scientist, I know very well what the scientific information is and I know that we are on a very dangerous path that is not sustainable,” explains Suzuki. “I know very well that my grandchildren are growing up radically different from the world I knew from when I was a child. And that worries me, it bothers me, it scares me.”

Others gathered at the rally say the issue is just the latest in a long list for Surrey, and say it starts with one park and will affect others in the future.

“They’re losing tree canopy percentage year after year,” says Kevin Purton, a resident of the Fraser Heights area. “They’re degrading parks here and there, everywhere you look. I mean Green Timbers urban Forest was originally suppose to be one square mile of forest, and is being eaten away bit by bit. It’s happening all over the city.”

Rally-goer Michel Touzerd agrees, and says groups have tried to convince the city against the road, but have had no success with this particular project.

“There are other solutions [than to build the 105],” he says.

The city is planning on building a connector through the green space, as part of a master plan. It says improvements will be made to amenities, and plans also include increased natural habitats and trees.

Despite claims the city failed to consult the public properly, Councillor Mike Starchuk says that’s not the case.

“We did public consultation, we did mailouts that went to about 300 of the local area residents,” he explains. “I personally met with the Hawthorne group spokesperson, I’ve sat with the David Suzuki Foundation members, to talk about all the things that we’re doing. At the same time the proposal is going through, so as far as getting the information out there and as far as what it is that we’re doing, I’m confident that we’ve had the dialogue.”

He hopes the city will look at the bigger picture, in terms of mass transit and moving people around, when making their decision.

Protesters have less than a week to present a petition with all its signatures to the city.

Earlier this year city councilors voted to lift a 30-year-old protection bylaw. Doing so allows a roadway to be built through the park.