Open letter to the mayor and council of Surrey.
I have driven in the 16700-block of 168 Street, and two trees that were scheduled be saved had been cut down. I am heartbroken. One of them was the largest, healthiest and most beautiful on the street.
I had believed for six months that they were safe, until the men discovered that the foundation of the townhouse would not accommodate their roots.
I do not blame city staff. Both engineering and the parks department tried very hard to save them but were unable to. This is due to the fact that all the developments today are seeking, and invariably being given, a variance in setback that leaves no room for the mature trees.
I foresaw this problem 3½ years ago and asked for heritage designation to protect them in the face of aggressive and ruthless development. It was at that time that the City of Surrey should have assessed my petition – which ended up with 780 signatures – and decided whether or not it had merit.
If they had wanted to save 168 Street, from 24 to 32 avenues, they would have planned for it and refused variances in setback that precluded the saving of fine specimens that engineering and parks could work around. They did not.
To this day, I have never been afforded the respect and courtesy of an answer, yes, or no, to our request.
Looking at the gigantic girth of the trunk of the one tree just felled last month, it seemed to me, the city’s answer: “What’s taken you so long to figure it out?”
I have made, over the past week, several phone calls to both to management of engineering and the offices of the mayor and council, requesting an appointment with anyone willing to speak with me about my petition, which I have continued to fight for in good faith over these past three years.
Not one person returned my call.
I feel reduced in stature and highly disrespected.
If the City of Surrey had decided that squeezing in every possible house was more important than preserving the magnificent streetscape of 168 Street, they should have told me.
This has been a very sad and discouraging experience, and I really have lost my faith in the City of Surrey to pay any mind to the wishes of the people.
Sybil Rowe, Surrey