Possible heritage oak in Clayton to be cut down

Frank Bucholtz (hand raised) explains to the City of Surrey’s Sheena Fisher (at left) April 15 why an old oak tree on 74 Avenue in Clayton should not be chopped down. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Frank Bucholtz (hand raised) explains to the City of Surrey’s Sheena Fisher (at left) April 15 why an old oak tree on 74 Avenue in Clayton should not be chopped down. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Concerned residents chat with the City of Surrey’s Sheena Fisher April 15 about the oak tree (background, middle) on the site of the soon-to-be constructed Regent school. Fisher said the tree can’t be saved, but residents disagree. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Concerned residents chat with the City of Surrey’s Sheena Fisher April 15 about the oak tree (background, middle) on the site of the soon-to-be constructed Regent school. Fisher said the tree can’t be saved, but residents disagree. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
A site map shows the layout for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. The yellow square shows the location of an existing tree that will be incorporated into the final design. The Blue dot shows the location of the old oak tree that is to be removed. (Via Surrey Schools)A site map shows the layout for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. The yellow square shows the location of an existing tree that will be incorporated into the final design. The Blue dot shows the location of the old oak tree that is to be removed. (Via Surrey Schools)
Five or more trees stand in the middle of the construction site for Maddaugh Road Elementary School, a new school a few blocks away from the Regent Road Elementary School site. Jim Foulkes is asking that an accomodation like this be made for the oak tree on 74 Avenue. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Five or more trees stand in the middle of the construction site for Maddaugh Road Elementary School, a new school a few blocks away from the Regent Road Elementary School site. Jim Foulkes is asking that an accomodation like this be made for the oak tree on 74 Avenue. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Despite garnering a lot of publicity, a heritage oak tree on 74 Avenue in Clayton Heights seems destined to be chopped down.

The City says the tree is in the way of where a new sidewalk will be built outside the soon-to-be constructed Regent Road Elementary School.

Sheena Fisher, park operations coordinator for the City of Surrey’s Land Development Department, met with a group of about 10 concerned area residents at the school site to tell them why the tree couldn’t be retained.

“Engineering has quite a few different requirements — as far as grades, and cross-sections, and falls, and also a whole bunch of utilities — that we need to get in, both under the road profile and within the new frontage that we’re achieving,” Fisher explained. “That includes parking, sidewalks, street lighting, and then there’s also the impacts that are coming in from the school side.”

Fisher said the tree was not on the school’s property, but on city land which would need to be developed to make way for a boulevard. “(The tree is) in direct conflict with the sidewalk.”

Fisher added the tree will be near the pick-up and drop-off area of the school. “So it is really important for us that we have a really safe boulevard, generally, but in this location, where it’s going to be really congested, really busy, lots of kids, ensuring that we meet the safety standards of engineering are going to be really critical,” Fisher noted.

The tree in question was brought to the public’s attention a few months ago, in January, when area resident Jim Foulkes started to advocate that the tree be saved because he said it was a heritage tree. (See story below.)

SEE ALSO: Surrey may lose another heritage tree

After Foulkes raised a ruckus, the tree was discussed at a Feb. 12 meeting of the Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission. Michael Gibbs, the SHAC commissioner, said at the time those present at the meeting agreed trees that have an aesthetic and historical significance should not be lost.

(The tree is located at 18717 74 Ave. — the former George Whitehead Farm, see page 11 of the linked PDF — along what was formerly known as Regent Road, pre-1957.)

The tree was then placed in the City’s hands to determine what would happen to it.

Fisher said a review was recently completed and the school board would be starting their frontage works — which includes chopping down the tree — very shortly.

“It’s morally wrong to cut down the tree,” Foulkes said to Fisher, “when you could just adjust the plan.”

Area resident (and Black Press Media columnist) Frank Bucholtz also expressed his concern. Bucholtz said the City pays lip service to preserving heritage trees, but he rarely sees any protected at all.

“Development and real estate rule this city and they have ruled it since the 1950s,” explained Bucholtz. “We don’t want a repeat of what happened in East Clayton.” Bucholtz said all the large trees in East Clayton cut down by developers.

“The root protection zone for this tree is almost eight metres. So it’s fairly significant,” said Fisher. “We wouldn’t be able to chase enough space, to give it enough root zone, for it to survive long term.”

SEE ALSO: Cloverdale heritage oak tree may be saved

“Someone has to take the positive attitude that it can be done,” added Foulkes. “This can be done if we do this. That’s what’s missing here.”

Fisher admitted that if the design was changed, then the tree could be saved. She said if the sidewalk was to go around the tree, and thus onto school property, the school board would have to be willing to make the accommodation, but that the planning department wasn’t going to ask the school board to look at that as an option.

“It can be done,” said Fisher. “Currently, engineering is not willing to relax their standards to the point they would need to save this tree. Planning is not interested in engaging the school board to redesign their project at this point in the (process).”

“They moved the freeway for Charlie Perkins’ tree,” shouted a man in attendance.

Fisher then said the City took a long look at the project from an engineering perspective. “After reviewing it, the City decided it’s important for us to keep a functional boulevard.”

Bucholtz said he understands why City Hall is very reluctant to make accommodations for these types of things.

“Those few of us that are interested in the environment, and the history of this city, get shouted out by developers, realtors, and other people who have money and influence — both political and otherwise,” he explained. “We’ve lived in Clayton for 33 years. We know what this community is like. We don’t want to see this community destroyed and become exactly like East Clayton, where there is not a tree standing. We don’t want this area developed like that. I’m not very impressed that the City can’t be a little more flexible on some of these issues.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey Heritage commission approves tree removal

Gibbs told Fisher the City’s departments, the school board, and the heritage committee need to work on projects from the beginning so they can work to accommodate the wishes of residents when it comes to big projects.

“They need to work together to satisfy the taxpayers who are paying for this,” said Gibbs. “It’s silly for us to be paying to take down heritage trees.”

“It’s all owned by taxpayers,” added Bucholtz. “It’s all owned by all of us. Whether it’s the school district, or the City, it’s all owned by taxpayers.”

Foulkes said he’s not giving up yet. He said plans to contact everyone at City Hall to let them know the tree can be saved and to offer advice on possible solutions to save the tree.

Fisher added that she was going to take the residents concerns back to the City and let them know residents don’t want the tree chopped down.

“That tree is not coming down,” added resident Lorraine Jones. “If I have to chain myself to that tree, I will. It’s not going anywhere.”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Beds are set up at the emergency response centre at the North Surrey Recreation Centre. (Contributed file photo)
26 people test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey emergency shelter

Centre located at North Surrey Recreation Centre

Surrey firefighters respond to a townhouse fire Sunday morning. (Shane MacKichan photos)
Firefighters respond to townhouse fire in Surrey

Fire ‘knocked down quickly’: witness

FILE PHOTO: Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for South Surrey and White Rock.
Snowfall warning issued for Surrey, White Rock

Accumulation of two to 15 centimetres is anticipated across B.C.’s south coast

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Jan. 24

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

White Rock Rotary Club president Mauricio Browne de Paula (front right) with other club and community volunteers at the launch of the free hot lunch program at the city parking lot at Russell Avenue and Johnston Road on May 21. (File photo)
Daily demand for White Rock Rotary, city lunch program surpasses 40

Recipients ‘are very good people… going through some tough times’

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

Most Read