UPDATE: New West residents calling on city hall for property purchase for park in Brow of the Hill

Brow of the Hill residents are petitioning city hall to preserve greenspace in their neighbourhood by buying a piece of property that may soon be up for sale.

Melanie Dubowits, a member of the Brow of the Hill Residents’ Association, has signed a petition urging the City of New Westminster to buy the empty lot at 1009 Cornwall St. Dubowits, a mom of three “very active boys," lives across the street from the empty lot.

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“I definitely saw a need to preserve green space, keep the trees in the neighbourhood, and ensure that my kids had a safe place to be kids, that wasn't a 15 minute walk from our house,” she said in an email to the Record. “Along with the stats that show our area has the lowest amount of park space per resident and a large number of apartments and condos, we also have a low mature-tree count. I see kids from the apartment building on 10th street at Cornwall playing in the grass on a busy road with no place to play close to home.”

Brow of the Hill residents have launched an online petition calling on the city to act now to purchase and protect this green space as a permanent park. The petition is found at www.change.org (search for Brow of the Hill).

“It has come to our attention that 1009 Cornwall will be listed for sale on the open market within weeks. This existing green space, and with it our neighbourhood’s best opportunity for a new park, will soon be gone. However, all hope is not lost. The property owner has confirmed that they are willing to sell to the city for fair market value,” said the petition. “We also know that the city has considered purchasing this property in the past.”

Brow of the Hill residents are calling on their neighbours and other concerned citizens to join them in demanding action before it is too late. Residents set up a table in front a house next to the site that was on the May 26 Heritage Homes Tour, in order to get signatures for their petition and raise awareness about the issue.

“For nearly 40 years the empty lot at 1009 Cornwall St. has been used as passive green space for our neighbourhood. This beautiful little sanctuary is the home of mature walnut and ginkgo biloba trees that are over 100 years old. The natural environment provides home to urban wildlife and much-needed respite from the heat in an area with little green space,” said the petition. “This is the perfect location for a permanent neighborhood park. Just imagine having a place nearby for kids to play or a place for a quick retreat under the shade of mature trees. Think of the community that could be built.”

In February 2018, a delegation from the Brow of the Hill Residents’ Association appeared before city council to appeal to the city to introduce some short-term and long-term initiatives aimed at improving the livability of the neighbourhood by planting more trees and creating more parks. They noted that the neighbourhood continues to densify and accommodate more residents, but the city has created little greenspace in Brow of the Hill for decades.

After reading a newspaper article about the residents’ association’s hope of having more greenspace and parklets in the Brow of the Hill neighbourhood, Dubowits said she and her partner thought it would be fabulous if the vacant lot could be used as a pocket park.

“This lot is perfect for something like this,” she said.

Dubowits said residents recently learned that the property was going up for sale and felt it was the perfect time for the city to increase the amount of greenspace in the Brow of the Hill, which needs more park space.

While she’d be happy if the lot was left as-is – and maybe mowed once in a while – Dubowits said she’d love to see the property include a play structure for kids, a pathway through the site and a community garden for residents living in apartment buildings in the area. She said there’s also talk about seeing if the trees on the site could be designated as heritage trees.

As of Tuesday morning, 349 people had signed the online petition.

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