Nine honey locust trees were removed from city property in White Rock last week, following the recent approval of a contentious application from residents of a Pacific Avenue condo building.
But White Rock Coun. Helen Fathers says that the thumbs-up should prompt the city to take a look at its tree policy, which allows residents of such buildings to apply multiple times, but prevents homeowners from making the same request more than once every two years.
“Now, there seems to be a glitch in the system, because if you live in an apartment building, you can just keep reapplying. And it shouldn’t really be. So I guess we’re going to have to look at that,” Fathers said Monday. “It should really be one per whole strata unit.”
Proponents, however, say the process, while lengthy, was one they were happy with.
Residents had complained that the trees, located west of the 15210 Pacific Ave. Ocean Ridge Development, obstructed views and posed a tripping hazard as roots began invading gardens.
Multiple requests to remove the trees – starting in 2009 – were rejected by both city staff and council under the city’s tree policy, which requires 65 per cent of those living within 30 metres of the trees to support their removal in order for work to be approved.
As of November 2012, the residents had 61 per cent support. A subsequent application made last summer by another resident of the 60-unit building garnered the support of 79 per cent of residents. As a result, the application was approved by the city’s operations department.
“Basically, they had come to council and asked us to appeal the decision, which of course, we didn’t. What they did was, another person in that building applied under the same policy – and this is where the policy in my opinion fails – went back and they had another crack at it and they got 79 per cent of the people saying yes,” Fathers said.
Pacific Avenue resident Anne Torno, however, said the application approval was a result of better organization.
“We came together a lot better, we talked to people and we set up a committee, so everyone would understand the implications of what we were doing. Everybody seemed quite willing to come on board,” she said, noting the residents footed the bill for the removal.
“In the end, it worked out pretty well. There are a couple of people who obviously are never going to be satisfied 100 per cent, but most of us are elated.
“The difference of having those trees down has been enormous to us. Not only do we have our views back, but we have so much more natural light coming into our suites now. And we also feel, from the street view, that the building looks considerably better without all the clutter from those trees, which weren’t very attractive.”
The boulevard where the trees stood is to be rehabilitated with soil and grass.