A recently formed community association is about to shift some of the critical public focus on the $1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road from Delta and Burns Bog to North Surrey.
The Bolivar Heights Community Association represents a single-family neighbourhood of about 5,000 people on a slope above the Fraser River between 132nd and 143rd streets north of 108th Avenue.
Formed last September to deal with local park and crime issues, the association is just now learning about the impacts it can expect from the proposed four-lane, 80-km/h truck freeway.
Residents are concerned that the road’s suggested route will cut a swath right across the bottom of their community.
And with estimated daily volumes of up to 5,000 container trucks connecting an expanded Deltaport to Highway 1 near 176th Street, they’re worried about both noise and diesel-particulate pollution that will drift up the slope over their homes and schools.
They also fear that when twinning of the Port Mann Bridge is completed, they’ll face a significant increase in traffic though their neighbourhood as commuters switch to the Pattullo Bridge to avoid new Port Mann tolls.
“We’ve never been properly consulted on the South Fraser Perimeter Road — and getting answers out of Gateway is like trying to nail jelly to the wall,” says Bolivar Heights Community Association president Pat Wilson.
This frustration, he explains, led the association to schedule a major information meeting for next Thursday, between 4 and 8 p.m. at James Ardiel School, 13751-112th Ave. in Surrey.
“Yes, we’re frustrated. But we are also a can-do community, so we’re holding this meeting to educate everybody, to bring all points of view forward on this issue and to bring transparency to it as well,” he says.
“We’re not about to sit idly by and allow our children, our elderly and our working people to be poisoned by virtue of having this project forced on us.”
As you can see, the association is just beginning to learn what other community groups, primarily in Delta, discovered long ago — that there are many serious, valid concerns over this project that the Campbell government foolishly sticks to despite viable alternative routes.
Its environmental review has already been delayed several times, the latest due to scathing negative comments from federal government environmental reviews on the road skirting legally protected Burns Bog.
“They call it a road but it’s really a huge freeway,” Wilson adds. “In our opinion, Gateway is not running an open and fair public process on this project.
“Regardless, we’ve invited Gateway officials to the April 3 meeting, but we’ve also invited others who have opinions on alternatives.”
The Bolivar group also intends to put heat on Surrey’s city councillors. Wilson says Mayor Dianne Watts and council have said very little publicly about the road. “I expect they’re keeping quiet because Surrey is getting all this new road infrastructure paid for by the province,” he notes.
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