Letter-writer Cal Pawson notes big trees are few and far between along the City of White Rock’s hillside.

LETTERS: Our cities need to protect trees

Letter writers address the need for tree protection in White Rock and Surrey.

White Rock

Editor:

When travelling through White Rock, especially hillside areas, you realize how few big trees remain.

Trees, notably tall trees, are endangered by the lack of a sustainable, environment-focused community plan and tree-management policy and bylaws. The present plan, policy and bylaws value views and unrestrained development more than trees and green space, which create a livable community and sustain life.

Our present tree-management policy states: “It is the policy of the City of White Rock to manage, preserve and enhance trees on city lands while taking into consideration established views from White Rock properties and scenic views in the city. The long-term objective is to ensure the sustainability of the city’s urban forest assets by increasing the number of healthy trees and amount of tree canopy in the city, without negatively impacting established views…”

It later states: “The city encourages replacement trees that are of a species that will not grow to screen or block viewscapes of neighbouring properties.”

This policy results in the removing and pruning of tall trees in order to have views and encourages trees of smaller varieties. Effectively, this removes native trees, like firs and cedars, that naturally grow and “block views,” but which are necessary for biodiversity and a healthy urban forest and environment.

Tree preservation and a healthy environment need to take precedence over desired views and development.

The bylaw lists the types of permits a property owner or development can apply for to remove an “unwanted” or protected tree. After submitting a report and small fee and promising to plant and maintain replacement trees, you can expect to receive your permit.

Instead of following this destructive path, let’s preserve and protect all trees that are valuable community resources.

Our future community plan needs to encourage smaller buildings and development plans that include existing and newly planted trees.

Wanting large houses, view properties and unrestricted development that permits tree removal is self-serving and shows ignorance of the value of trees.

Rather than wanting, let’s look to what we need.

We need to educate ourselves regarding the benefits and purpose of trees, and we need to change our values that are destroying the environment, and value that which sustains life and benefits everyone, not just the few.

We need an effective community plan with supportive tree-management policy and bylaws that preserve and protect, in perpetuity, all trees on all lands, public and private, no exceptions, now or future.

We need to plant many trees to restore natural balance and biodiversity, which includes tall native trees.

Cal Pawson, White Rock

Surrey

Re: Surrey’s losing its tree canopy: report, Dec. 2.

Unfortunately, we live in a greedy society where the only thing that really matters is making a profit.

In the name of profit very little consideration is given to our environment, and we are falling short of preserving our old forest.

Forests are levelled to the ground, destroying birds, animals, habitat – not one thought given for those wonderful creatures. Once lost, you can never get it back. We end up with concrete jungles.

It seems money is the only thing that matters.

Planting stick trees is a grand gesture, considering most of our old forests are being destroyed. It takes 40 or more years to become mature trees, then most likely the trees will be cut down again and replanted with stick trees.

Will the vicious cycle ever end?

Mary Mikelson, Surrey

• • •

I read this article with interest. It is a larger issue than people realize, as the Lower Mainland is a significantly large area – enough to change the climate.

Fewer trees mean less moisture, which in turn has a dramatic effect on farming.

The tree policy by the city clearly needs to be changed. Fining large developers is a joke; they willingly pay tens of thousands of dollars rather than worry about trees.

The industrial complex on the corner of 32 Avenue and 192 Street looks somewhat like a nuclear fallout area – not one blade of grass on what must be at least 100 acres.

I questioned the City of Surrey’s planning department some time ago. Their view is that they cannot dictate to developers where to leave existing trees.

I don’t think they have to. One solution could be to simply grant development permission on condition that 30 per cent of all trees remain. Simple: leave it up to the developer with a tree audit before and after.

Michael Klerck, White Rock

• • •

I live in the heart of Ocean Park. Beautiful big trees are part of the reason to be there, taking care and enjoying these wonders.

Imagine my feeling when a clearcut was completed on a home a few doors down from my home on 22 Avenue in Surrey. This was not for a new build or an addition; the result was a lawn. I counted 13 big stumps.

I called the bylaws department, and the response was the trees must have been sick. She then informed me it was 17 trees! I asked for an arborist or someone to call me with the reasoning behind this unbelievable turn of events. It has been months now and no return call.

It is hard to believe someone would allow this, just for a lawn. Many in the neighbourhood find this hard to fathom. What Surrey says and what was done to our street is a complete turn of affairs.

Cathy Jesson , Surrey

 

 

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