Heritage Designation of Trees on 168th St from 24th to 32nd Ave and Establishment of a Passive Forest Area Park on a 9 acre property site, 27th Ave and 168th St Area 5

Date: January 2014 to ongoing

Outcome: Passive Forest Park Designated, Tree designation still under Engineering Dept. advisement

Issues: tree preservation for area character, ecological balance, and community benefit

Area resident Sybil Rowe, a senior,  had identified that the preservation of the natural beauty and integrity of Grandview Heights in the face of massive development could be focused on the majestic evergreens indigenous to our neighbourhood.

Note: This is being recounted in the Priority Concerns section of the GHSA website although at this time, the association had not been formed. The actions of this solitary resident, in addition to others indicated in the Priority Concerns section are, however, among those which coalesced neighbourhood residents into forming a stewardship/neighbourhood association.

Location

The potential park area is the former Dogwood Stables property, 2770 168th St. This 9 acre parcel “had been previously acquired by the City for land banking for future park purposes, either on that property or on another suitable location when Grandview Heights Area 5 went through the NCP process.” Ted Uhrich, Parks Planning, Research and Design Manager.

Below is a map of the location of the property. Click on it and the photos below for a larger view.

Dogwood map

Here are two images of the area which, although impossible to capture by photographs,  indicate their rich arboreal asset to the area and to Surrey at large:

dogwood 1

dogwood 2

The trees are so tall that only a partial image is possible.

 

Timeline:

Sybil Rowe, as the head of the Western Cedar Evergreen Group, assembled a petition asking for signatories to the following:

1. Heritage designation of the majestic evergreens framing either side of the entrance of our neighbourhood, that being 168th St from 24th Ave to 32nd Ave

2. Creation of a green park for families at the nine- acre property site on the 2700 block on the east side of 168th St.

Close to 780 individuals signed this petition which was administrated by Sybil on foot in the winter months by doing door-to-door visits in the neighbourhood for over eight weeks.  She also sought signatures at Grandview Corners and other area gathering places. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with just a few who did not want to get involved or were involved in the development industry (according to the petition’s administrator).

The reason this task took so long, in Sybil’s eyes, is because people were concerned with the pace of development, the cutting down of trees, and traffic in Grandview Heights. She recounts that people signing her petition often held her for over 30 minutes discussing these issues central to development of Grandview Heights at the present time.

New residents constantly expressed that all the green and beauty they had moved here for was being destroyed.

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This, in Sybil’s words, are her vision for the park area:

“The first thing that struck me, of course, was it’s beauty, a magnificent, treed property, so typical of what people associate with Grandview Heights.  A great asset, especially  for a park, is it’s accessibility  from three streets, 168th.St.,  169th.St., and 28th.Ave. There is a myriad of wonderful walking trails through the trees, then one comes upon a small, sunny clearing, that was probably, once a riding ring. I could see here a tiny tot’s area, complete with a jungle gym, swings, teeter totters, sand box, etc. One good thing about this spot, is it’s proximity to 169th.St. i.e. far side of the park and away from the busy traffic on 168th. I certainly know that I would appreciate this location as a mom with a young child. At the far end, is an open meadow, where  one could visualize a baseball diamond or, maybe, a tennis court…..

Studies have shown that in the midst of massive development,  the retention of a few of those old, familiar places, does much to alleviate the stress and anxiety brought on by the rapidly changing world. It is a source of comfort and reassurance in a time of upheaval. I dearly hope that the old horse farm on 168th.St. will become such a place, a Heritage Park for the people.”

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In March 2014, Sybil  applied for a delegation to City Hall to request a meeting with Mayor and Council to present her petition and rationale.

She was refused.

Sybil consequently spoke with Councillors Villeneueve and Rasode on the telephone about this issue.  With the development of Orchard Grove already in play with the construction of the Grandview Aquatic Centre and other development applications at initial review, Councillor Rasode intervened to have a stop order on tree destruction on any trees on 168th from 24th to 32nd until further investigation could occur.

Sybil was later given permission to appear before the Parks committee. Councillor Linda Hepner, Laurie Cavan (GM Parks) and others were in attendance. She presented her petition and a short presentation that she had actually written for Mayor and Council.

After the presentation, she was informed that she should have presented to the Environmental Committee not Parks but because she had already presented to Parks, any delegation to the Environmental Committee was cancelled.

At this point, Sybil contacted Alex Browne at the Peace Arch News and several newspaper articles were written about her quest. You can read them here.

Within a few weeks of these articles, Councillor Hepner called Alex Browne at the PAN to inform him that in fact, the Park Committee had decided to grant Park status to the property. Also at this time, it was said that Engineering would be exploring the issue about street trees on 168th. Alex Browne was the person to contact Sybil to congratulate her on her success.

On April 28, 2014, the new designation of the banked land as passive forest park was announced.

The Parks department subsequently sent a letter to Sybil dated May 21, 2014 confirming that the nine-acre property would be preserved as a passive forest park.

Ongoing concerns

The Heritage tree preservation on 168th St, according to the Engineering Department, is still on going pending assessment and possible alteration of centre line of 168th St to accommodate them.  Check back with this Priority Concern to find out more about the Heritage Tree designation as it progresses.

Resources

Sybil’s advocacy of tree preservation is documented in the Press section of this website. Here is an article that reflects some of the challenges she faced.

Here is the confirmation of the passive forest park designation.

City Engineering contact: Doug McLeod  DMcLeod@surrey.ca

For further information: info@grandviewstewardship.org