Carol Savage and Joe Vanderark were among 15 residents who pitched in to spruce up a popular Ocean Park laneway last month

Preserving the charm of Ocean Park

Resident behind revitalization project says it spruces up a popular Ocean Park laneway – and builds community in the process.

A grant from the City of Surrey has a group of Ocean Park residents sprucing up a well-used walkway – an effort they say is not only reconnecting the neighbourhood, but preserving a little of its charm along the way.

“The street is changing before our very eyes,” said Carol Savage, a resident of 20 years who led the charge to give ‘Church House Lane’, on 15A Avenue and 131 Street, some much-needed TLC.

Savage said small houses in her neighbourhood, more and more, are being sold and torn down to make way for duplexes and monster houses – development she describes as “invasive,” filling the lots end-to-end, and steadily eating away at the area’s greenspace and overall character.

With the development, residents have also noticed an increase in traffic and crime.

Pitching inThe enhancement project – undertaken by 15 neighbors on Sept. 26, with a commitment to maintain it for the foreseeable future – was a way to hang onto some of the greenspace, and bring the community together, Savage said.

“We lose the space, we lose the trees and we also lose the charm,” she said.

“We needed to try and reconnect with our neighbours, to start looking out for each other.”

The idea to take the walkway under wing came to Savage early in the summer, after she noticed surveyors in the greenspace, and heard rumour that it may be rezoned for development. While she’s been told there’s no such application currently in the works, she’s hopeful if one is ever made, the community’s commitment to the space will remind officials of its importance to the residents and encourage them to preserve it.

In her grant application, she asked for $770 to help make the project happen, committing to match the funds with donated time and equipment.

(Grants of up to $3,000 are available for small projects that improve the physical appearance of a neighbourhood; visit surrey.ca/community)

Prior to last month’s garden day, the space consisted basically of 13 mature trees and weeds. The “amazing amount” of work undertaken included the planting of approximately 20 shrubs, moving seven yards of dirt, planting 100 daffodil bulbs and creating a rock garden.

It was an “overwhelming success,” Savage said.

Savage noted the walkway became known as Church House Lane for the neighbouring home – now vacant – that was originally a church, built in 1921. She estimates more than 100 people use the lane every day.

Going forward, she expects garden days will be organized at least twice a year. In between, high school students have committed an hour per week to regular maintenance of the space; time they can put towards their volunteer credits. (Surrey students need a minimum 30 hours of volunteer/work experience to graduate; other students wishing to work in the garden may contact Savage at carol_savage@telus.net)

“We’re committed to keep the space maintained… as long as we’re in the neighbourhood,” she said.

 

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