The site of a future parkland strip for a subdivision just west of Northview Crescent in South Surrey has been cleared of much vegetation

The site of a future parkland strip for a subdivision just west of Northview Crescent in South Surrey has been cleared of much vegetation

Site clearance work raises residents’ ire

Removal of trees under supervision of arborist, designated parkland will stay, Surrey parks manager says

Residents of the Northview Crescent area of South Surrey – up in arms at recent site-clearance work for a new subdivision – should be aware that promised parkland will be retained, Surrey’s parks manager said.

Anger rose after neighbours watched crews cut down an area of trees and brush that had been fenced off on the perimeter of the future 38-lot subdivision, west of Northview Crescent toward 164 Street, and just north of 28 Avenue.

One told Peace Arch News last week that residents – citing a subdivision plan that shows the area as a buffer strip of parkland – were prepared to put up their own barricades to stall further clearance at the site.

But Surrey parks manager Owen Croy told PAN Wednesday that – even though crews had demolished wood and orange mesh fencing around the area – no rules had been broken and the work had been approved following consultation with a city arborist.

Croy explained that while the area is dedicated as parkland in the subdivision plan, it will be subject to some clearance and replanting before it reaches its final form. The area had been fenced off only as a preliminary step, he added.

“We required the arborist to complete a report on the health of the existing trees, whether any of them posed a hazard and which ones had a capacity to be retained,” he said, noting that only some trees passed this inspection.

Part of the parkland area will also be the site of some underground utility work, he said, and trees there were also slated for removal so this could be done.

“The barriers will go back up around the remaining trees,” he said.

Croy said the work of assessing the trees in the parkland strip was done – as is customary – at the expense of the developer.

“We’re in the business of getting assets, not liabilities,” he said. “We have a parks arborist assigned to the site and we’re watching it rigorously.”

But Croy said he understands and respects the concerns of neighbours about clearance work.

“When you have residents who have lived in an area a long time and see so many changes it is understandable that they are concerned, and rightly so,” he said.

“Thank goodness we have people with their eyes open.”

He added that the parks department welcomes inquiries from residents who fear that developers are breaking rules with regard to protected trees and will follow up on complaints.

“It shows the level of engagement of residents and we love that,” he said.