The 16500-block of 24 Avenue, which is where a 400-plus development is planned. (Google image)

The 16500-block of 24 Avenue, which is where a 400-plus development is planned. (Google image)

LETTER: Surrey city council cares not for trees

City is moving forward with actions, policies that fail to serve its citizens

The Editor,

Re: “Council pushes forward applications for 400-plus dwellings in South Surrey,” the Now-Leader online.

The City of Surrey is moving forward with actions and policies that fail to serve the citizens of Surrey. Undercutting a climate emergency declaration by mayor and council on Nov. 4 2019, yet another large loss of Surrey canopy is planned with the clear-cutting of 279 mature trees (not including alder and cottonwood) on 24th Avenue at 164th Street.

This administration has authorized the removal of 50,000 mature trees from October 2018 until May 2019. The only voices in opposition to this tree removal were Councillors Brenda Locke, Steven Pettigrew and Jack Hundial.

Historically, Surrey was gifted many beautiful mature trees. The 2016 Surrey Shade Tree Management report noted the many benefits provided by mature trees, including improved physical and mental health, reduced greenhouse gases, reduced air pollution, noise mitigation, and improved stormwater management.

Trees add value to our homes, improve economic activity in retail areas, and calm traffic. But seedlings take decades to reach a size that can provide these benefits. This period to reach maturity is probably close to the half-life of the structures currently being planned.

The most important first steps in improving a city’s canopy is the tenacious protection and maintenance of mature trees.

This is Surrey’s big fail.

The opportunity for citizen engagement in Surrey actions has been reduced, as noted in the same issue of the Now-Leader. An autocratic style is pervading the City of Surrey’s leadership, resulting in decisions that set back progress for the city and diminish the quality of life for current and future Surrey citizens.

Hopefully this administration, which behaves as though in climate change denial, will be replaced by leaders such as Locke, Pettigrew and Hundial, who have the interests of current and future citizens of Surrey in focus and understand the meaning of climate emergency.

Robert Winston, Surrey

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