June 5, 2015 8:44 pm
Updated: June 5, 2015 10:38 pm

City of Surrey to cut down hundreds of trees in Green Timbers park

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WATCH:┬áSome Surrey residents are angry over the city’s plans for what they call their own “Stanley Park.” Nadia Stewart reports.

It has been described as Surrey’s Stanley Park but a plan by the city to cut down hundreds of trees in Green Timbers Urban Forest Park is causing controversy.

“This effectively will be catastrophic,” says Green Timbers Heritage Society board member Susan Lehmann, whose family has been fighting to protect the 560-acre park for nearly three decades.

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“It’s environmental suicide, is what they’re planning.”

The City of Surrey plans to remove the trees in order to widen Fraser Highway from 24 metres to about 40 metres on both sides of the highway between 140th and 148th Streets. The highway is being expanded to make space for additional lanes and a two-lane light rail transit route.

Lehmann says it would mean cutting down some of the park’s 80-year-old trees and that there are other options.

“All they have to do is activate the inter-urban rail, it’s sitting there,” Lehmann says.

“It might not be as high profile as what they have planned but it’s functional.”

But city officials say the Heritage Society should have seen this expansion coming since Green Timbers was designated an urban forest in the late 80s via a referendum. When people voted in that referendum, they also agreed that the city maintained the right to widen the road.

“People were around in the 1980’s when the referendum passed and when this area was set aside for future road widening,” Surrey Manager of Parks Owen Croy told Global News.

“So, you know, it’s regrettable that trees will be lost, but the net benefit is actually growth in the area of dedicated park land by an additional 6.9 acres.”

The growth Croy is referring to was initially set aside for development but is now being given back to the park. However, Lehmann says that land was supposed to be used for the Hydro Right of Way and not for the Fraser Highway.

Lehmann worries the city will push through their plan regardless of opposition saying “I thought we were living in a democracy. I thought we had a voice.”

No final decision has been made on the city’s proposed plan but city council has already approved it in principle and construction is slated to begin in 2017.

~ with files from Nadia Stewart

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