January 9, 2018 7:31 pm
Updated: January 9, 2018 11:01 pm

Tree removal begins in Surrey’s Hawthorne Park amid protests

WATCH: A battle to save part of a Surrey park from road construction has come to a head, as crews who've moved in to start taking down trees have been met by protestors. Geoff Hastings reports.

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The City of Surrey began cutting down trees in a popular municipal park on Tuesday, as part of a plan for a contentious new road.

The sound of chainsaws was clearly audible coming from the woods of Hawthorne Park, where protesters gathered behind large fences in opposition to the work.

Several hundred trees are slated for removal, as Surrey moves forward on the new 105 Avenue Connector, a three-kilometre road that will connect Guildford with Surrey City Centre.

“I’m very heartbroken and really, I can only blame the mayor and councillors for this,” said demonstrator Richard Lansdale.

“I’m very upset that the city of Surrey seems to think that it’s a necessity to cut down large trees,” added fellow protester Tracy Woodams.

READ MORE: Surrey residents fail in bid to block road through Hawthorne Park

Steve Pettigrew, a spokesperson with the group Save Hawthorne Park, said opponents of the project haven’t given up yet.

“We will have people that are standing around and doing what we can to prevent this work from occurring.”

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Surrey City Council voted unanimously in November to proceed with the new road that it says is needed to avoid congestion once work begins on new light rail transit (LRT) for the city.

The city has said it expects work on the LRT project to begin at some point in 2018.

READ MORE: Rally held in Surrey to protest plan to build road through Hawthorne Park

The new road will cut through Hawthorne Park, some front yards and the grounds of Hjorth Road Elementary School.

Opponents say it will cause irreversible damage to sensitive ecosystems in the park, which had previously been designated a protected area.

However, the city says it is adding five acres to the park to make up for the area where work is being done, and planting 500 replacement trees.

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