Activists get gritty in protest over Gateway Program

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      Some of the sand put in place to stabilize the ground for the planned $1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road—part of the Gateway Program—will soon be headed straight for B.C. transportation minister Shirley Bond.

      Long-time Surrey resident Bernadette Keenan, a founding member of the Bridgeview Community Action Group, told the Georgia Straight that she and other local activists are behind a campaign they’re calling Sand for Shirley. Keenan said she has already collected recycled envelopes, and now she’s getting people who are concerned about the construction of the SFPR to sign a form and scoop sand into an envelope for Bond. The envelopes will be hand-delivered rather than mailed, Keenan added.

      “Why sand? It is a symbol,” she said by phone. “They’re dumping it on us. It’s in our faces, and you can’t drive anywhere around our neighbourhood without seeing it. There used to be trees growing there. There were plants and houses, and people that I know and respected are gone now because of that sand. Basically, I hate it.”

      At a July 19 meeting at Bridgeview Hall, Surrey resident Tom Jaugelis of told the Straight the envelopes will be filled at various events this summer and fall. He confirmed that someone will drop the envelopes off for Bond at either her constituency office in Prince George or her office in Victoria. He said he believes there is still time to stop the project.

      “She is kind of removed from it, whereas [former transportation minister Kevin] Falcon was right here in the area,” Jaugelis said. “And she has given the impression that she may not be that familiar with it, because she has referred to it in the media as the ”˜Simon Fraser Perimeter Road’. We think sending her sand that’s been dumped on these neighbourhoods will give her a perfect taste for what this project will be like, and maybe she will become more familiar with it.”

      Bond did not return a call from the Straight by deadline.

      At the meeting, Jaugelis and Keenan were joined by Delta residents Inger Kam, Wilma Haig, and Susan Hodges from the South Fraser Action Network, as well as Ernie Baatz and Richelle Giberson from the Sunbury Neighbourhood Association—all from communities affected by the SFPR. Keenan and Giberson demonstrated how to fill an envelope and sign the form being sent to Bond, which states: “We have had more than enough preload sand, so I am sending some back to you. Please remove the rest and cancel the Gateway Program’s freeway network.”

      Surrey activist Tom Jaugelis believes the South Fraser Perimeter Road should not be built.

      NDP transportation critic and Surrey resident Harry Bains told the Straight by phone, “Good for them for raising the concerns of the community.”

      Bains said he did not believe that many components of the $3-billion Gateway Program could still be stopped, but he said that if he were transportation minister, he would have consulted more widely with the residents of communities affected by the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

      “I may not stuff the envelope myself and send it to the minister, but I do understand why they are doing it, and I fully understand their position,” Bains added.

      Jaugelis said the delivery of the sand will coincide with the upcoming Global Work Party worldwide event on October 10, for which he is helping organize a local event that opposes the SFPR, called Dig in for Climate Justice. Last fall, local activists took part in the Bridge to a Cool Planet event to raise awareness about climate change as part of the International Climate Day of Action. Dig in for Climate Justice will come under the umbrella of the international movement and will be cohosted by the Council of Canadians and Keenan and her colleagues have already announced that they will meet that day at 2 p.m. at Bridgeview elementary school.




      Jul 22, 2010 at 6:30am's half built already. Get over it! You lost and democracy won. Stop whining.


      Jul 22, 2010 at 6:33am

      One thing about sand, it makes it easy to roll stuff on. Enough of it may roll this government out of office. With all the boondoogles this government has been involved in since 2001, BC Rail, BC Hydro, HST, Gateway (and the list goes on and on), it should be like grease to the LIbERalS on their way out of office. Send some to Watts as well so she knows what she's getting into should she decide to take up provincial politics.

      Ted Campbell

      Jul 22, 2010 at 8:43am

      Bunch of over-active tree-huggers with too much time on their hands. I guarantee not one of them will bicycle those envelopes all the way from the site where the dump truck put the sand to Ms. Bonds offices. Morons every one of them.

      East Van Observer

      Jul 22, 2010 at 10:59am

      A company still hasn't been selected to build the SFPR, it is not too late to cancel it. The Gateway Program going ahead had nothing to do with democracy and much to do with corporate oligarchy. That and the inability of the NDP to take a meaningful stand on any environmental issue. The Liberals sell us out to global corprate interests, the NDP are too tame to do anything about it. That leaves just regular folks to do the job- Bridgeview residents you inspire!


      Jul 22, 2010 at 11:05am

      What a stupid idea!

      Bernadette Keenan

      Jul 22, 2010 at 12:59pm

      Have to say that this is a wonderfully well written and insightful article. Thanks Matt. For the sake of accuracy, must note although I was on the board of the Bridgeview Community Association last year, currently I am just a BCA member. I am a founding member of the Bridgeview Community Action Group though, that is sponsoring the "Sand for Shirley" campaign along with the Sunbury Neighborhood Association.
      Also like to point out with all the funding cutbacks to essential programs like education and health care, a huge part of the "Sand for Shirley" Campaign is to give people the opportunity to say where they would rather invest the billions of dollars being wasted on freeways that will only increase congestion rather than relieve it. Each form includes a fill in the blank statement " I want the government to invest in _________________________________not Freeways" From the response so far people definitely do not agree with the Liberal government's view that pavement not people is the priority for spending our tax dollars on.
      If you want to get involved in the campaign or learn more go to
      or if you just want to help get the message to Shirley Bond there is an on-line petition at
      For every signature we commit to sending Shirley a scoop of sand.

      Stephen Hui

      Jul 22, 2010 at 1:06pm

      Thanks for the clarification, Bernadette Keenan.

      We've revised the article so it refers to you as a founding member of the Bridgeview Community Action Group.

      Eric Doherty

      Jul 22, 2010 at 2:23pm

      Many freeways have been stopped well after construction was started. Examples include the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts that the City of Vancouver is now considering demolishing (they were supposed to be "four flying miles" long and connect to the Highway 1 freeway). But there was public opposition combined with a budget crunch, leaving only stubs of ugly elevated freeway along the False Creek waterfront.

      The most common recipe for stopping freeways is spirited public opposition combined with a financial squeeze. Sounds like the situation we have here again. See

      How many schools will Shirley and Gordon be willing to shut down so they can trash the banks of the Fraser River with their $2 billion waterfront freeway?

      susan hodges

      Jul 22, 2010 at 5:24pm

      From some of these comments it is obvious there is a lot of educating to be done out there about this project. Like the government failures to meet their own meagre environmental standards, the damage to the Fraser River's ecosystem by pillaging it of hundreds of thousands of metric tons of sand and thereby the salmon habitat, the damage to the more than 120 riparian zones, the destruction of the housing through Sunbury, River Road, Bridgeview and dozens of families uprooted. The complete over-capacity at Deltaport for which only this road will serve. The three endangered species at risk forever affected and the rare lupine at Sunbury Stockpile site to say nothing of the fraud of the project splitting into North and South Fraser roads to avoid a stricter environmental assessment and the fact that it should have been included with Deltaport Terminal 1 for environmental assessment. Let's not forget all the damage to farmland in Delta. When California is anticipated to run out of water in less than a decade, and their food production skyrockets so will all our california food import costs. I haven't even touched on Burns Bog yet, literally the lungs of the lower mainland. There are not any jobs on a dead planet. Something to think about?

      no contract

      Jul 22, 2010 at 5:32pm

      it is worth mentioning that there is no contract in place to build the SFPR, and its completion has already been pushed back.
      all the work to this point is preparatory in an attempt to make this risky project more attractive to potential builders.