Surrey resident group plans legal action in bid to stop road extension through local park

Opponents of a plan to extend a road through a southern section of Surrey’s Bear Creek Park are now preparing to take legal action to stop the project from going ahead.

On Monday, city council was scheduled to consider approving the awarding of the construction contract for the 84th Avenue extension, which will connect the road between King George Boulevard and 140th Street.

On the project’s website, the city said the vehicle lanes will be built “within the existing road allowance and under the BC Hydro power lines, not in the Bear Creek Park Reservation Area.”

The project is intended to help ease traffic pressures in other areas, including the intersection of 88th Avenue and King George Boulevard.

Sebastian Sajda with the local residents group Friends of Bear Creek Park said the road extension will “disrupt the entire ecosystem.”

“A lot of people have said that these southern lands of Bear Creek Park aren’t really that important because they’re undeveloped,” he said. “But really, this where all the critters live.”

His group is planning to seek a court injunction in an attempt to halt the project. Construction is slated to get underway this summer.

“One of our biggest issues was the public consultation, which wasn’t much of a consultation,” he said. “It wasn’t asking whether we wanted the road, it was asking what we wanted the road to look like, and we just think that’s unacceptable.”

A report from the city’s general manager of engineering last May indicated a project survey that was issued sought feedback on “road design, cycling and pedestrian connections, improvements for park access and parking, and environmental enhancements opportunities,” and also included “open-ended comment boxes.”

Of the comments received, the report said 76 per cent did not express an opinion either way, while 16 per cent explicitly stated opposition, and eight per cent were supportive.

The report also noted the receipt of a hardcopy petition signed by 500 people in support of the project, the majority Surrey residents.

However, Surrey City Coun. Linda Annis said another petition was also presented to council bearing thousands of signatures against the project, and she wants the engineering department to look at other options to improve road safety.

“I think the mayor needs to put a pause on this. He needs to do proper public engagement,” she said. “Why would we put a road through an iconic park such as Bear Creek? It makes no sense to me.”

CTV News Vancouver requested to speak to Surrey’s mayor, but was told he was unavailable.

The extension route also crosses two salmon-bearing creeks. The city intends to build a bridge over one and a culvert at the other.

The environmental assessment also noted a small wetland area between the two waterways would be “partially disrupted” by the road. The city plans to mitigate the impact by creating a “large wetland pond” south of 84th Avenue, near an existing parking lot.

“It’s absolutely not a foregone conclusion,” Sajda said. “There’s a number of permits that the city has to file with both the provincial and federal authorities, and we’re also preparing a legal challenge to stop this road.”

While regulatory approval still has to be sought for some of the work, the city plans to start construction outside of environmentally sensitive areas first, and intends to complete the road by next fall.