A giant redwood tree is slated to come down in North Surrey as a developer plans to build a housing complex there.
A group of area residents are trying to save the coastal sequoia, a threatened species of tree, which towers hundreds of feet over a property on the southwest corner of 133 Street and 104 Avenue.
To passing traffic, the tree is all but invisible. But walk around a corner, and residents say it takes your breath away.
Ed MacInnis said he saw it for the first time on Wednesday night.
“It is outstanding. You just don’t realize until you come around the corner just how big it is,” MacInnis said. “I didn’t even know a tree like that existed in Surrey.”
City staff say they received a plan to build a four- to six-storey multi-family midrise on the property in 2010.
Staff say the application, submitted by Lin’s Holdings, was scant on detail and hasn’t advanced any further since the application was received.
Council has not seen the plans yet, and nothing yet has been determined about the future of the tree.
MacInnis’ niece Kayla said she isn’t planning to wait for the application to move forward.
“We were mind-blown,” Kayla said in an interview Friday. “We just want to make sure it gets protection, even if (the city and developer aren’t talking about it right now).”
She wants to get the public involved “before it’s too late.”
Before they ever saw the tree Wednesday, the MacInnis’ spent some time touring Green Timbers Urban Forest and learning about its storied past of environmental protection.
A friend asked if they wanted to see a really big tree and took them to the North Surrey sequoia.
“I was blown away,” MacInnis said.
He noted there was a lot of fuss made about the removal of a tree stump in Stanley Park that’s just a fraction of the size.
Surrey Coun. Bruce Hayne, who is also chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee, said his committee would be reticent to endorse cutting down a tree of such magnitude.
“Council in general has been pretty clear they want to look at proposals that do as much as possible to retain trees, and particularly significant trees,” Hayne said Friday. “That would be certainly something we would be looking at every single option.”
Kayla is a member of the local Metis society and she’s planning to see if that group is interested in joining the cause to save the tree.
Meanwhile, she’s created a Facebook site to save the tree at https://www.facebook.com/ProtectOurCoastalSequoia