A videographer is sharing drone footage that shows the extent of tree clearing in Hawthorne Park after the city removed hundreds of trees last week.
Jeremy Deichen told the Now-Leader he shot to video this past Tuesday.
“The reason I did the footage is to try and document what is going on,” Deichen said. “It actually makes me very angry to see what they have done. I created a video that got about 300,000 views prior to this (tree clearing) but unfortunately it was not enough.”
The city says an estimated 450 trees were removed last week, including 200 with a diameter of at chest height of at least 30 centimetres.
The road through the park is one portion of the City of Surrey’s 105 Avenue Connector project.
The city’s justification for the connector road is to move utilities off 104 Avenue in preparation for light rail, that it’s been in the city’s Official Community Plan since 1986, and to create an east-west connector to Whalley Boulevard to 150th Street to ease traffic and reduce congestion.
The project is proceeding despite more than 11,000 Surrey citizens formally voicing their disapproval, an attempt in court to halt it, and a protester blocking machinery from tree-clearing and delaying work by a day.
Opponents even held a vigil for the fallen trees last Saturday, after the majority of tree clearing was complete.
“Every single tree and shrub between the two construction fences are down,” Save Hawthorne Park leader Steven Pettigrew told the Now-Leader Monday morning.
“It looks like the type of clear cut that you see on the mountains after a lumber company has been through.”
While the city says it’s taking down about 200 large trees, opponents claim the total count is more like 2,000.
Project Manager Victor Jhingan said “the tree count (of 200) is based on the Surrey’s Tree Protection By-law which identifies trees that are at least 30 centimetres in diameter at chest height. This is a common practice amongst municipalities in identifying tree removal, and is applied consistently to any homeowner, developer or the City itself when tree removal is proposed.
“The trees that are being removed in Hawthorne Park have been assessed by an independent arborist are primarily in poor health and are not long lasting trees,” Jhingan added. “Additionally, approximately 250 additional trees will be removed from the park for the park improvement works. It is important to note that as part of our mitigation plan, the project is acquiring over five acres of adjacent biodiverse natural areas, adding a net increase of one acre of parkland and resulting in a net increase of 200 trees in the expanded park area.”
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner recently told the Now-Leader that the 105 Avenue Connector Road project will improve access, circulation, and connectivity for the community between City Centre and Guildford, as well as improving the local transportation network.
Hepner insisted that the size of Hawthorne Rotary Park will not be diminished by the project.
“In fact, as part of the 105 Avenue Connector project, the City has been actively working on acquiring new lands to preserve as parkland, including high quality bio-diverse properties adjacent to the existing park,” Hepner said. “The land acquisitions will grow Hawthorne Rotary Park by more than one acre over its current size and add more than 200 new and substantial trees to the park.”