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 Gatewaysucks.org 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 350.org and will be cohosted by the Council of Canadians and Gatewaysucks.org. Keenan and her colleagues have already announced that they will meet that day at 2 p.m. at Bridgeview elementary school.