BRITISH COLUMBIA

Olivia Peters' Letter Saves Surrey Forest

04/12/2013 11:23 EDT | Updated 04/12/2013 11:23 EDT
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A 12-year-old girl's letter to Surrey's mayor is being credited with saving a suburban forest from developers.

Olivia Peters, a grade 6 student at A.J. McLellan Elementary School in Surrey, wrote a heartfelt letter to Dianne Watts that was republished by Surrey Now last month, imploring her to save the Bose Farm Forest from a housing development.

Peters described walking through the forest near her school and seeing orange spray-paint and metal tags on trees that were slated to be cut down.

"We were highly disappointed because this forest is in the area where I grew up and am currently growing up, and I don't want to think of it as a place for new houses or even a park to be built," Peters wrote in the letter.

Peters wasn't alone in her concerns. Surrey council rejected an initial development plan for the property after hundreds of Surrey residents packed a public meeting in July 2012, forcing the developers back to the drawing board, the Surrey-North Delta Leader reported.

Platinum Properties hopes to develop 44 single-family homes, 250 townhouses and 253 units in four condo buildings on the property and is currently in third reading, The Province reported.

There will still be housing, but Peters' concerns have helped save seven hectares of forest when the initial plan would have cut down double that, the newspaper reported.

Environmental website Grist praised Peters for her role in helping to save the forest, saying that she has already changed the world at such a young age.

Olivia Peters' letter as published in the Surrey Now.

Dear Mayor Watts:

My mom and I recently took a walk through the forest and found many trees with orange or yellow spraypaint on them, numbered with either orange tape or a metal tag nailed to the tree.

My mom and I assumed that this was because the forest was planning to be cut down, and after some research, I figured out that it was.

We were highly disappointed because this forest is in the area where I grew up and am currently growing up, and I don't want to think of it as a place for new houses or even a park to be built.

Some trees in the forest are nearly 100 years old and it's not right to be cutting these trees down. A lot of Surrey has no more forests, and I think we really need to protect areas where there are still some left.

Also, it isn't just my family and I who would be affected by this forest being cut down. Many animals and plants of all different kinds live there, including eagles, other birds, raccoons, field mice, voles, squirrels, cedar trees, fern bushes, deer and many more. And those animals will be sentenced to death as soon as the machines move in.

A lot of people say that you are doing this for the future of Surrey. Well, I and a lot of my friends and family are the future of Surrey, and if plans like this keep getting the thumbs up, there will be no future for Surrey. I really wish that you and the rest of the people who are a part of this plan would think about what the motto "The Future Lives Here" really means.

Avtar Johl, director with Platinum Enterprises, which is applying to develop the property, said if he can save any trees, he's all for it. Well, why not save all the trees? The plan does not have to happen to this great, historic forest.

Also, I am not the only one who is very upset at this plan. On July 23, 2012, during a public hearing over development plans for the historic Bose Farm Forest, Tanner Wright, an SFU student, said, "I walk past that forest every single day to catch the bus, and I have to say, that's one of the most beautiful things (about) waking up in the morning to catch the 8 o'clock bus."

I was moved by this and was very impressed and hopeful that I could show you that I and others do not wish this plan would get a thumbs up, like many other plans have.

I really hope that you would take this message to heart. This is not just some email that a kid wants to send to the mayor of her city. It is an email from a concerned citizen of Surrey who wants the very best for the future of Surrey, so please don't just delete this email like it's nothing and doesn't matter.

Today, I am pleading with you to really think about what is best for Surrey and to reconsider your decision.

My family, friends, many others and I are a part of Surrey too, and I hope you really think about all the kids and how they would be affected by cutting down the trees that belong to the Bose Farm Forest.

Thank you for your time.