I need help trying to save the big, beautiful trees at risk that create the Johnston Road gateway to White Rock.
There is an arborist report from a consulting firm about the first four existing mature city trees on the east side of Johnston Road. These trees were given high ratings for health and structure and deemed “worthy of consideration for retention in the proposed development.”
The report also states “the City of White Rock plans to remove this line of trees as part of the Johnston Road Streetscape Revitalization plan…” This corroborates the printed material I saw at a public meeting in 2014 for the then-Johnston Road Beautification Task Force. It was so offensive to me that cutting down healthy, mature trees was considered “beautification” that it prompted me to start a petition, and the 1,107 signatures collected as of last month were submitted to council.
Given the horror of last year’s clearcutting of the ‘hump’ (Bluff clearcut catches many off guard, May 13, 2015), I am very concerned for these trees and the precedent to be set for the rest of our existing tree canopy flanking both sides of Johnston Road.
Our beautiful, mature tree canopy welcomes pedestrians and drivers into our lovely community and creates a strong corridor down the hill linking to the Lower Town Centre and Five Corners. You don’t need a map, you don’t need to speak English, you don’t need a sign. The trees show the way where everyone can expect to find our businesses, services and social connections with other shoppers or walkers.
We all enjoy the blossoms in spring, the shade in summer, the fall colours and the twinkling lights on bare branches of winter. Our mature trees create ambience, livability, walkability and bird habitat, and add esthetics by way of texture and colour, softening the hard outline of buildings and breaking up the visual impact of highrises. None of this is recreated by planting young trees, and it will take decades to replace these canopies once gone.
New construction is coming to town, and upgrading uneven sidewalks to accommodate root structures is not rocket science. People, mature trees, new buildings and sidewalks can coexist, but you have to speak up.
This Thursday, Dec. 8, 5:30-8:30 p.m., is a public meeting at White Rock Community Centre, and it is your chance to speak up about choosing a streetscape concept.
White Rock citizens were not consulted prior to the clearcut of the ‘hump,’ but at this moment we are being asked what we want on Johnston Road. Please join us and speak up for our mature, healthy trees.
Sandy McNamee, White Rock