EDITORIAL: Trees a hot-button issue

When trees come down on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, people are going to ask questions.

When trees come down on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, people are going to ask questions.

That’s a simple fact of life that city staff, council members and private property owners need to get their heads around. If there are very good reasons for the pruning or removal of a tree, it behooves them to have answers at the ready, or expect expressions of outrage, rumours and suppositions – however accurate or inaccurate – to multiply.

In the recent case of two Douglas firs removed from city property in the 1200-block of Oxford Street in White Rock, there seems to be little doubt, from a consultant arborist’s report, that both trees were in an advanced state of decline, observed over years. Branches that dropped off frequently were posing a risk to surrounding properties, as well as streets, sidewalks and power lines.

Director of engineering and municipal operations, Jim Gordon, was no doubt acting for the best in deciding to have the trees removed. But while due diligence may have been done in providing written confirmation to property owners within 30 metres of the tree, council members were not informed – as they should have been, under city policy – until an hour after work started. When questions were asked, they were caught unprepared.

In another recent incident, it appears that private citizens trespassed on BNSF land on the hump to remove saplings that had started to grow where trees had been removed in 2015, and which now threaten their views. It should have come as no surprise that witnesses reported the action to city bylaw officers, or that the BNSF is investigating.

In an era when long-time scientific study of the crucial importance of tree canopy to health and well being – both locally and globally – is receiving daily confirmation, trees are a hot-button issue.

While it is easy to shrug off ‘tree huggers’ – or to ask who really cares about a few trees, here and there – there is every indication the tide is turning. More and more, people are realizing that the reduction of tree canopy, and the resulting disruption of ecosystems and wildlife has a very direct physical impact on their lives.

Reaction to clear-cutting of White Rock’s hump in 2015, or the destruction of a mature cottonwood eagle-nesting tree by unknown hands in South Surrey last summer, or reports that Surrey has approved the removal of 50,000 trees since last October are clear signals that the public cares.

And when people feel their interests are threatened, no one should be surprised when they turn to those they elected to protect them.

Just Posted

Surrey celebrates multiculturalism with annual Fusion Festival

The two-day festival returns to Holland Park

RCMP investigate two shootings in Surrey

Incidents happened in Whalley, Newton

Surrey Board of Trade fears SkyTrain expansion will impede other transit needs

‘We need transit improvements in all of Surrey,’ Anita Huberman says

Public hearing set for two Surrey modular housing projects for homeless

Surrey council set to vote Monday on projects in Guildford, Whalley

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

UPDATE: One dead after house fire in rural Maple Ridge

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, traffic being re-routed

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

No estimated time for opening

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Most Read