A small victory in my fight to save Grandview Height’s trees has been achieved after a 1½-year struggle with the City of Surrey.
A number of very significant trees have been saved along 168 Street between 24 and 32 avenues.
More than 700 residents of South Surrey signed my petition to save these trees and grant them heritage status.
I believe that Coun. Dave Woods is largely responsible for this. I sense a changed attitude on the part of the staff at city hall to one more appreciative and aggressive in their protection. The staff love trees as much as I but are limited in their power to make changes.
I contacted Woods and, shortly after, a meeting of city staff took place at the site I was deeply concerned about, the corner of 26 Avenue and 168 Street. All the signs of imminent clearcut were there.
Two days later, a call from engineering asked me to meet with them to view their changed plans. I soon realized that saving the whole street was not possible. High density, variance in setback and complex engineering preclude that. Each tree now requires the approval of three people – engineer, arborist, and developer. If anyone is in dissension, the tree has to go.
I was saddened by the trees coming down, yet, at the same time, moved by the efforts of the men to save every one possible.
As I suspected, all these trees had been slated for removal. The ‘entrance to our neighbourhood,’ to quote our petition, would have disappeared and eventually taken our neighbourhood with it. The loss to Surrey would be incalculable.
It has been a long and difficult struggle trying to save a semblance of the beauty that the great conifers bring to Grandview Heights. The unfinished job will be done one tree at a time.
The staff at city hall are becoming ever more creative and flexible in their designs. Doug McLeod in engineering has worked especially hard, saving many trees, and I am deeply grateful. Parks and planning are trying to purchase some magnificently treed land in Orchard Grove for a passive park, i.e. a cool and beautiful place, to retreat in the hot summers that lie ahead.
Again, thanks to Woods for listening to my concerns and responding so promptly. I know the staff want to do everything they can to make Surrey a better place, but they cannot do it without the continued support of mayor and council. The developers who wield so much power at present must also learn to listen to the people and try harder to do their part in reaching this goal.
I must also note that this week I drove by the site. The remaining trees have come down and the shock is terrible. My victory seems pitifully small.
Sybil Rowe, Surrey