Re: Next year’s election campaign has already begun, November 14, Now-Leader online.
As a long time resident of Surrey I have seen Surrey’s landscape develop from a vast municipality to the dynamic city that it is today, and I’m excited about continuing the work to achieve our vision for what we aspire to become.
As chair of the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee, I take a special interest in issues related to the natural and built environment of our City.
In his column, Mr. Bucholtz contends that Council ignored residents’ concerns when deciding to approve the 105 Avenue Connector and Hawthorne Park Improvements Project.
But sometimes, making the right decisions to move the City forward in the right direction means being ready to make, not the popular decisions, but the informed ones.
While City Council must balance often competing demands and interests, priorities need not be mutually exclusive. This project demonstrates that we can have both.
Council’s approval was based on fulfilling a long identified need, 30 years in the planning, to deliver better access, circulation, connectivity and multi-modal corridors for a growing community, not just now but into the future.
It strikes the balance of addressing the area’s growing transportation demands, plans for sustainable development in City Centre and along 104 Avenue, and the community’s desire for active and natural areas for an improved community park.
The plan invests $3 million in enhancements to Hawthorne Rotary Park, in addition to improvements that will come quickly through project construction.
These include a net increase of 700 trees throughout the project area, a 1 acre net increase in parkland, new environmental and biodiversity features, as well as new park access points, walking trails, pedestrian paths and cycle tracks for all to enjoy.
I take issue with those that say they haven’t had a voice in the process.
I clearly recall many meetings that I’ve personally had over the last several months with individuals and groups who have shared their viewpoints, and whose input has helped shape our new project design.
I also take issue with the erroneous claim that the project will be “cutting a popular North Surrey park in two” and that “the construction period will all but eliminate use of the park for an extended period.”
The truth is that the 1986 OCP road alignment was revised in the late 2000’s from 106 Avenue to 105 Avenue to avoid bisecting the middle of the Park and to protect its sensitive environmental features.
Further, through recent public consultation we’ve provided a narrower custom cross section for the road alignment that now runs along the southern edge of the Park. We recognize it is a well-used community amenity and City staff are developing a construction schedule to keep its active areas open through the high use season.
We know we have continued work to do to help people understand the benefits of what is being delivered. A public meeting is being held on Dec. 6 to share updates on how public input has shaped design changes and to provide details of the project’s phased implementation schedule.
We also welcome input into the longer term Hawthorne Rotary Park Master Plan process which will deliver a range of additional improved amenities.
We’ve heard that a new destination scale playground with parkour for youth, a new waterpark, new shelters, a new washroom building and a new fenced dog off-leash area are all items that the community wants to explore. These ideas need to be confirmed with residents through ongoing community engagement.
City Council recognizes that challenges and differing views come with change, and that not all interests can be fully met all of the time. But, we believe that making informed decisions with a view to what is best for Surrey as a whole over the long term is what we’ve been elected to do.
I encourage residents to visit the City’s project webpage (www.surrey.ca/105Avenue) and to come out to the public meeting to learn more.
Councillor Mike Starchuk
Chair, Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee