COLUMN: Future of trees is up in the air

Proposed removal of heritage trees a divisive issue.

The proposed removal of 332 heritage trees on an upland portion of the Henry Bose farm, part of which is slated for development, is far too much.

It will create a moonscape on the hillside between 60 and 64 Avenues, in the 16400-block, and that current environment will never be duplicated.

This is not to say the land should be left completely as is. It is within the urban growth area and, unless the city wishes to buy it as a park, should be open for development.

But there are far better ways to develop such a unique site.

The city has struck an agreement with the developer, Platinum Enterprises, to retain three heritage buildings on the property – the milk cooling shed, Henry Bose house and calf barn. These are significant heritage assets on one of the most prominent farms in Surrey – one which played a major role in the city’s history.

It’s important to point out that this development is for one portion of the historic Bose farm. The large barn on 64 Avenue is on another part of the farm, and that property is also slated for development.

Single-family homes and townhouses are proposed for the property. Is it not possible to site them in such a way that much of the mature forest is preserved? There are 168 western red cedar trees on the property, 18 Douglas firs and 38 broadleaf maples. All of these trees are significant natural species in Surrey, and there are limited numbers of mature trees in urban areas – particularly all together in one forested area.

There has been significant tree preservation on other townhouse sites in Surrey, notably in Sullivan and, in my view, the townhouses built in such developments are far more desirable than those built on an open, cleared site.

When this issue came before Surrey council as it voted 4-3 to send the issue to public hearing, it was clear there were many concerns at the council level. Mayor Dianne Watts was away, but the three dissenting councillors all said the tree removal was too much. Coun. Mary Martin, who chaired the meeting, did not vote, but also raised concerns.

It is now up to the public.

Do people who live nearby, and those from other parts of Surrey who have a passion for the environment and heritage, want to see such widespread destruction of a forest which is over 100 years old? Do Surrey residents want to see nothing but houses as they drive along 64 Avenue and start to climb Bose Hill?

The public hearing into the proposal takes place on Monday night at city hall. Even though it is slated for a time when many people are away on vacation, there is a good chance there will be significant participation.

If there is, that will be a good sign that many people in Surrey care about the environment, heritage and aesthetics. If the public is indifferent, perhaps that means that the developers should proceed with their plan.

There has been an increased and long-overdue interest on the part of the city in looking at the environment, before simply approving development plans. While some developers get frustrated by this. the net effect is a more livable city and homes that will retain their value.

In neighbourhoods such as Sullivan and Fleetwood, where many mature trees have been retained, the communities continue to have much of their former look. Many new developments have enhanced the area.

In others, such as East Clayton, where hardly a tree has remained, there is virtually no sign of what once was. While the new neighbourhood had most urban services, its heritage has been obliterated, and wildlife have been displaced.

Development on the Bose farm can go one of two ways. It will be up to the public to let council know their preference, and then it will be up to council to make what will likely be a difficult decision.

Frank Bucholtz writes Thursdays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.

 

 

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

Just Posted

Sources team members (left to right) Carrie Belanger, Abby Gemino, Tatiana Belyaeva, Yasmin de Joya-Pagal cheer during the 2020 Coldest Night of the Year event. This year’s event will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sources photo)
White Rock’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser goes virtual

Annual walk raises funds for variety of Sources programs and services

An Amica White Rock resident receives the COVID-19 vaccine during a Jan. 15, 2021 clinic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
PHOTOS: South Surrey seniors grateful for ‘freedom’ of COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinics at Fraser Health long-term and assisted-living sites were to wrap up Jan. 15

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

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

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Most Read