People who live and work on both ends of Surrey’s planned 84 Avenue extension fear the imminent arrival of bulldozers to begin work on the controversial road-construction project.
Bear Creek Church lead pastor Conrad Neudorf is among those worried about increased traffic and noise off 140 Street.
“Any day now I’m expecting the work to get going,” Neudorf said Tuesday (Jan. 4). “I think they want to get at this pretty quick, so we’re going to see trees felled.”
A kilometre to the west, Julie Cotton is concerned about radical change coming to her corner of 84 Avenue and King George Boulevard.
“We’ve seen no trucks or anything, but we figure they’re coming, because this fence will come down, all these barricades will go away,” Cotton lamented. “It’s going to look so different.”
Last Friday (Dec. 31), the Safe Surrey Coalition majority on city council said a B.C. Supreme Court decision confirms that the city is “well within its rights to proceed” on the project, to extend 84 Avenue along the south end of Bear Creek Park.
Justice Sheila Tucker dismissed a petition, from Force of Nature Society, Sebastian Sajda and Annie Kaps, that had asked the court to declare as parkland properties impacted by the road construction.
Mayor Doug McCallum welcomed the judge’s decision. “Today, we are finally able to move forward in the best interests of Surrey’s residents and I am proud of the leadership of the Safe Surrey Coalition in getting it done,” the mayor said in an emailed statement.
Pastor Neudorf said church officials aren’t happy with the court ruling.
“But there’s not a lot we can do now,” the pastor said. “We have a school meeting here, a number of churches that meet, a daycare, so it’s going to be intrusive – it cuts really close to the building. It’s going to be right next door here, and very close to the sanctuary where we worship, so it’s going to be loud.”
He said church officials have known the road extension “was a possibility” since the church building was constructed more than two decades ago.
“I think it’s an unnecessary plan,” Neudorf said. “I’ve heard the reasoning that it’s going to alleviate the traffic – it’s not, it’s just another road for people to use. They already did incredible improvements on the corner of 88th (Avenue) and King George. I don’t know why much stress this will alleviate, this will just cause more in this area. They want to go right through to Scott Road. There’s already a lot of accidents at this corner, I can’t imagine how it will be once the road goes through. People will speed through here, I’m sure.”
For nine years Cotton has lived in the 114-home The Trails at Bear Creek complex, which exits north onto 84 Avenue.
“We’ve requested a light here, and we’re not getting that,” Cotton said. “It’ll have a median here so we can’t turn left out of this driveway. We’ll have to turn right and go (east), all the way around. Getting out of here will be a real problem. They’ve suggested we exit from the fire lane, another gate on the other side of the complex. It’s no good.”
The new road “won’t be a straight line,” Cotton noted, “it’s going to curve a bit into our lawn, and that fence will have to come down.
“I’m very upset by it,” she added, “and we’re putting up a good fight. People who walk by asking what’s going on, they don’t know about it, and they don’t want it either. There were signs on this side but they took them down before Christmas, but the signs are still on the other side, by the gurdwara.”
On the 140 Street side, south of Gurdwara Sahib Brookside and next to a Tybo company sign, a pile of gravel sits behind construction hoarding that promises “a new direct route to improve neighbourhood access, safety and connectivity.”
Cotton’s neighbour, Glori Smith, had signs of her own last spring.
“We were out there protesting back in March, but nobody listens,” Smith noted. “It’s terrible. We don’t want it. We’d love to stop them because we don’t want a road, and I’ve fought it for 28 years living here, all four times they pitched the idea. We stopped it every time, and this time the city is getting away with it.”
Sajda, who is also running for city council in 2022 under the Surrey Connect slate, is president of the society and part of the Friends of Bear Creek Park group that has protested on Saturdays at 84 Avenue at King George Boulevard and 140 Street.
In July, the Force of Nature Society, Sajda and Kaps filed the petition with the B.C. Supreme Court against the City of Surrey.
Following that, the B.C. Supreme Court granted an interim injunction and then a permanent injunction until the petition hearing, held Oct. 14 and 15.
The 84 Avenue extension was approved in July. During a council meeting, the Safe Surrey Coalition majority awarded more than $16.2 million in construction grants, relating to the project.
The statement from McCallum notes the project was “largely” approved due to the “heavy congestion” at 88 Avenue and King George Boulevard.
“For many years, this has been Surrey’s most dangerous intersection when it comes to motor vehicle collisions. The 84th Avenue extension will provide a safe, convenient and reliable alternative connection between Newton and Fleetwood that will alleviate pressure at the aforementioned junction.”
Meantime, Sajda said he knew this was “going to be an uphill battle from the start.”
But he added it’s his suspicion that the roughly two-and-a-half month wait for the decision could be to do with the intervention of the B.C.’s Attorney General’s office.
“It was essential that we try. We believe this road is bad policy and this position has not changed. We’re continuing to monitor a number of other issues related to this project, such as the unaccounted for raising of BC Hydro towers in the project area which promises to add many millions to the cost of this road.”
Other issues, Sajda said, include the ongoing issues with contaminated soil due to past dumping sites along the planned roadside, the culvert and the upcoming bird-nesting season.
“A single hummingbird stopped the TMX for a few months,” Sajda noted.
with files from Lauren Collins and Tom Zytaruk