Adrian Bilodeau started his garden on city property in 2008 as a tribute to his father.

Adrian Bilodeau started his garden on city property in 2008 as a tribute to his father.

South Surrey garden plight inspires petition

Online campaign launched for South Surrey 'Gratitude Garden'

Word that a South Surrey garden – started as a tribute to a local man’s father – may be at risk has prompted a petition to City of Surrey’s mayor and council.

The online effort (https://www.change.org/p/save-the-south-surrey-gratitude-garden), launched Monday by South Surrey resident Laura McLeod, logged 132 signatures by Thursday morning.

“It seems to have touched a chord with people who are frustrated by all the non-stop development in Surrey,” McLeod told Peace Arch News by email.

PAN reported last week that the garden lot – started in 2008 on city land located on 156 Street between King George Boulevard and 24 Avenue – was being considered by the city for sale. Garden creator Adrian Bilodeau told PAN that he hoped to convince city officials to preserve the site, and that the public would add their voice to the appeal.

He said Wednesday that he has been overwhelmed by the response.

“It’s been absolutely crazy,” Bilodeau said, of messages he has received in the past week. “Just amazing seeing people that you’ve never even met be so passionate. I’m hoping that this will help in the long run.”

Comments by people who have signed the online petition describe the garden as “a little piece of heaven” and “an asset to South Surrey.”

“We need to keep our green spaces whenever we can. It makes us smile and feel good,” writes Vivien Watkinson. “I cannot tell you how sad we all feel as more and more green spaces are filled with development… in our city.”

Nikki Komorowski said Bilodeau “deserves to keep this as a gift to locals as well as a tribute to his father.”

Lynette Hazelwood said it “would be a shame for yet another piece of greenspace be destroyed (no matter how small), just so an area can be developed. Here’s a thought for the developers and the city; why not incorporate the garden (as is) into your plans!”

This is not the first time the site has been considered for sale. According to a City of Surrey May 2015 report, previous consideration to the idea was quashed at the recommendation of staff.

The report notes the garden “has become a popular gathering space for local community members and has been noted in the media ‘bringing pleasure to hundreds of neighbours in the area.’

“The city had been considering selling this surplus road right of way property, but when made aware of the importance of this site to the community, staff decided to maintain the status quo until further development in the area.”

Bilodeau said Wednesday that the city’s manager of realty services has asked to meet with him in the new year regarding the garden. PAN was told last week that “no firm decision” had been made regarding it, and Bilodeau said he has also been given that message.

“I’m trying to feel optimistic about it,” he said, of the garden’s future. “I never want to count chickens before they hatch.”