Surrey council has given preliminary approval to a development on a heritage site that will see the razing of more than 300 mature trees.
The developer is planning to remove 332 significant trees – many of them more than 25 metres (82 feet) tall – from the back end of a forest of the 7.8 hectare (20 acre) heritage Bose Farm at 16420 64 Ave.
Platinum Enterprises is planning to build 65 single family homes and 158 townhomes on the property.
At land use on Monday, Surrey council voted four to three in favour of sending the proposal forward to public hearing.
Mayor Dianne Watts was away, and Coun. Mary Martin, who was chairing the meeting did not vote. Couns. Bruce Hayne, Barinder Rasode and Judy Villeneuve opposed sending it forward.
“I’ve heard really loud and clear from our town hall meetings how we need to manage our growth better when it comes to issues like our environment,” Rasode said Thursday. “And I think this is a perfect opportunity for council to say `hey, we need to pay a bit of attention here.’ “
Veteran Coun. Judy Villeneuve also took a stand against the removal of trees on the site.
“For me, I was a bit horrified with that number of trees,” Villeneuve said. “I just don’t want that site to look like the Mary Hill Bypass.”
She said there are several sites throughout the region like and she thinks it’s just a “blight on the landscape.”
Newly elected councillor Bruce Hayne also objected to the clearcut.
“It passed, and I figured it would pass, but I wanted to raise my objection to the removal of those trees,” Hayne said. “We’ll see where it goes at the next public hearing in July.”
Coun. Barbara Steele said council asked the developer to save as many of those trees as possible.
“The reason I’m in favour of it, I think it’s a development that’s overdue,” Steele said, adding she’s pleased with the heritage preservation on the site. “I went for the scenario that isn’t 100 per cent perfect.”
Martin, who did not vote, said Thursday she has great concerns with the removal of the forest.
“This is like a pristine forest area and I’m very concerned about it,” Martin said.
Watts said Thursday has a lot of concerns about the tree loss.
“I’m extremely disturbed to see that there’s a proposal coming forward taking down those kind of trees,” Watts said, noting residents will have their say at the public hearing. “I will go into that with an open mind, but I have some serious concerns.”
Between 2001 and 2008, Surrey was issuing permits to cut down about 10,000 significant trees annually, according to figures obtained by The Leader. Recessionary forces caused significant declines from 2009 to 2011.
Critics say despite that decline, they see clearcuts throughout the city.
The public hearing on the Bose Farm development is scheduled for July 23 at 7 p.m. at city hall, 14245 56 Avenue.