Hawthorne Park Plan in Perspective

It was misreported this week that hundreds of trees were cut down in Hawthorne Park for light rail transit after drone footage was posted to YouTube showing tree clearing for a new extension of 105A Avenue. The clearing was actually for the 105A Avenue connector project itself – which has been planned for 30 years – and is independent of, and pre-dates the LRT project itself. The new road is however being fast-tracked in advance of LRT, to provide a relief route for traffic once construction begins on 104 Avenue. The road was planned to be constructed regardless of whether LRT, SkyTrain, or no rapid transit was planned at all for 104 Avenue.

In the drone footage and captured images – a large clearing of trees is shown giving the dramatic impression of a clear-cut of the park to make way for the new road (or LRT if you’ve been mislead by headlines). The reality is, this cleared area only represents a small fraction of the park’s vast forested area, and the road itself will only consume a narrow 2-lane wide portion of this, with the remainder to be used for a new aquatic habitat and enhanced environmental area. The cleared area also skirts the edge of undeveloped treed lots to the south – giving the impression of cutting through the middle of the park in this area – when in fact the road runs along the edge of the park.

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Captured image from drone footage showing clearing along southern edge of Hawthorne Park.
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Cleared area in perspective – majority to be used for new aquatic habitat/environmental area. Lands to south are private property outside park designated for future mixed-use.

While the tree clearing for western portions of 105A Avenue does cut more through the park rather than skirt the edge – when put into perspective – this cleared area pales in comparison to the remaining forested lands preserved elsewhere in the park. Further to this – planned expansions of the park, reclaimed green space from relocating the parking lot, and the new aquatic habitat and environmental enhancement area more than offset the impacts of the minor 2-lane collector road that is to be constructed – not to be confused with an arterial road as misreported by the Daily Hive.

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105A connector routing through the southern edge of Hawthorne Park in perspective. Vast majority of park to be preserved, expanded, and enhanced.
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Artist rendering of new 2-lane 105A connector and new aquatic habitat, environmental enhancement area, and future development site south of 105A Avenue outside of Park.
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Artist rendering of new 2-lane 105A connector along edge of Hawthorne Park and new aquatic habitat, environmental enhancement area, and relocated parking lot/reclaimed green space.

The new 2-lane road (planned for 30 years) will not only add much needed east-west capacity to Surrey’s road network between densifying City Centre and Guildford, but also improve accessibility to Hawthorne Park – better integrating it with its evolving urban context, with new gateway features, pathways, and entrances – which will result in more people using and enjoying the park. Today, it remains a largely hidden, underutilized, rural park from a previous era, that is easy to pass by without recognizing it is even there.

It is important to realize, that a road through a park isn’t the end or destruction of Hawthorne Park or a call for protest, particularly when so much value and improvements will be added to offset the impacts. Many world renowned parks have roads through them, and are doing just fine.

Some examples of great parks with roads through them:

  • Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC
  • Central Park, New York, USA
  • Tiergarten Park, Berlin, Germany
  • And the list goes on.. and on.

Hawthorne Park will live on, and emerge even better than before.

For more on the 105A Connector and Hawthorne Park Improvements project:

http://www.surrey.ca/city-services/22562.aspx

Hawthorn Park to see Improvements and Grow in Size as part of 105 Ave Connector Project

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Google Earth view of Hawthorn Park looking north from 104 Ave

On Monday, Surrey Council authorized staff to move forward with an Alternative Approval Process to remove a 1979 bylaw reserving a portion of lands in Hawthorne Park for park purposes. The bylaw, which applies to 6 properties (shown on the map below), currently preserves the properties for park purposes. City Staff want to construct a new portion of 105 Avenue through the properties as part of an east-west connector road project which has been planned since the 1980’s. An ‘Alternative Approval Process’ will now move forward involving the public, with aim to remove the 1979 Bylaw and allow for the road’s construction.

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Properties affected by the 1979 Bylaw preserving lands for parkland

While some have expressed discontent with the proposed plan, fuelled by misinformation from mainstream media outlets the proposed plan will actually bring many improvements to the park including a net increase in total size and number of trees. Under the original 1987 OCP plan for 105 St through the park, the alignment was to cut straight across the park east-west. As part of the current design process, the proposed road has been re-aligned to cut further south to have the least environmental impact to the park, and preserve a pair of environmentally sensitive ponds within the park. In total the improvements include:

  • Careful alignment of the proposed 105 St to minimize environmental impacts.
  • The proposed roadway will be a narrow, 2-lane cross section through the park with no on-street parking to minimize impacts.
  • 3 properties along 108 Avenue are proposed to be added to the park to make up for parkland lost by road construction. This will result in a net increase of 1 acre of parkland from what exists today (4 acres of park removed for the road, 5 acres of park to be added in exchange)
  • 200 additional trees from what exists today will be added to the park.
  • Addition of new bike lanes and sidewalks on 105 St improving accessibility to the park.
  • A previous proposed connection to 142 St has been removed from the current proposal to preserve more trees and parkland.
  • A new salmon rearing habitat to be added north of 105 St within the park.
  • Relocation of the existing Hawthorne Park parking lot and access roadway to a more efficient location, allowing for more green space within the park.
  • New walking trails to be established through the park.
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Proposed alignment of 105 St and Park Improvements

While the plan for the 105 St connector through the park has been in place since 1987, the 1979 bylaw has prohibited the road from actually being constructed. While well intended at the time, the bylaw has since become outdated, put in place nearly 4 decades ago when Surrey was much less developed. In the current context of a rapidly growing city, the 105 St connector is an important piece of infrastructure needed to meet current and future transportation needs, as well as servicing demands within Surrey. The connector will also provide an alternative route to 104 Street, which is designated to become a transit-prioritized and oriented corridor in the near-future with the addition of LRT. The minimal loss of 4 acres of parkland within the 57 acre park (which will then be recuperated through the addition of 5 new acres of parkland) is a negligible price to pay for the greater community good of improved connectivity, accessibility, and overall improvements to the park. 

For more on the proposed bylaw removal and 105 Ave connector project:
http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/CR_2017-R161.pdf