Neighbours of a controversial White Rock strata development say they witnessed – and captured on video – a deliberate effort to poison a protected tree on one of the lots.
According to Geoff Parkin, whose Malabar Avenue home is directly behind the Bishop Hill lot in question, video taken in late November shows a man climbing the 50-foot-tall tree, drilling holes into its trunk and pouring liquid from a jerry can into the holes.
“We’re all sort of stunned,” Parkin told Peace Arch News last week.
Parkin said the city’s arbourist has been to the site – and “confirmed to me that there were drill holes and they could smell chemicals.”
City manager Dan Bottrill said Friday the city received the complaint on Nov. 26 and that staff are working with a consulting firm to get to figure out exactly what happened. He said the tree in question was the not the subject of any application to the city.
While poisoning has not been confirmed – test results are due this week – Bottrill said suspicion of the act is “sufficient enough that we haven’t been able to conclude our investigation.”
There have been three such incidents in the city in the past three or four years, he said.
“We’re concerned, we really are. We’ve seen situations where trees have had to come down,” Bottrill said.
The city’s next steps will depend on the test results.
The issue is not the first concerning the development. Mayor Wayne Baldwin acknowledged in October that some have been the result of city error.
That acknowledgment followed delegations to council by Parkin and neighbour Chris Small, who detailed problems that included side-yard setbacks that were allowed after it was determined staff had provided the developer with inaccurate guidelines; landscape-feature walls that were built too high; and a retaining wall that enabled the developer to build a patio for one lot that is essentially level with the top of Small’s fence.
Following the comments, Baldwin agreed mistakes had been made, apologized to those affected and promised that concerns would be addressed.
He described the situation as “not one of our finer moments.”
Bottrill confirmed Friday that a stop-work order that resulted from the patio issue remains in place.
Parkin described the situation as “a gong show.”
“It’s one of those examples where if anything can go wrong it does go wrong,” he said.