(Amy Reid photo)

Column

SIMPSON: Peacock problems dragged on far too long in Surrey

Homeowner was wrong to cut down tree but his frustration is symptomatic of city’s inaction

I’m not with the hundreds of fuming readers who are venting their spleens, demanding for a head on a platter.

No, I feel for Parm Brar.

“Ya I’m guilty, I did something I shouldn’t have done But what option did I have left?” he asked the Now-Leader’s Amy Reid.

Earlier that afternoon, a car drove by Brar’s home, its driver slowing down just enough to roll the window down and yell out, “heartless lowlife!”

Indeed, Brar is feeling the wrath of many in his community – and the City of Surrey, which is now threatening to slap him with a $10,000 fine – after cutting down a tree that was home to many of the area’s colourful peacocks.

As the tree lay in pieces, covered in sawdust, the peacocks wandered the streets, stirring sympathy with their loud cries.

The condemnation was swift.

And it was relentless.

Since news broke of the tree being cut, Brar said people have been treating his family horribly.

He says one person even gave his children the finger while they were playing outside.

When we first broke the story of the tree online, the Now-Leader’s Facebook blew up with comments. Most screamed bloody murder.



But listen to Brar and you just might find yourself empathizing with him.

Brar says he has lived in the home for about seven years, and he said before he bought the property, he had no idea it served as a home to the area’s peacocks.

After he realized the challenges the birds presented, Brar said he pleaded with the city for three full years to do something, but to no avail.

“I can see people getting upset if I haven’t tried anything,if I just went and cut it down. Then I’m totally guilty. But if I tried for three years?”

Brar said dozens of birds came to the tree every night, leaving huge amounts of crap around his yard and in his gutters. He also says the peacocks make loud calls at all hours of the night.

Furthermore, his kids can’t use the backyard and his elderly dad was hurt and needed stitches after he slipped and fell on peacock poop.

So, he said enough was enough and he cut it down.

While I sympathize with his circumstances, I’m not condoning what he did. Residents can’t take matters into their own hands every time they feel frustrated by a situation in their neighbourhood (can you imagine hundreds of home-made speed bumps dotting Surrey’s streets?).

Illegal is illegal. Frustration does not give you the right to break laws or cut down a giant, majestic tree.

But Brar’s story is just symptomatic of living in a city chock full of residents who don’t feel listened to.

Surrey’s bylaw manager Jas Rehal admitted Brar had been in contact with city hall for a “fair bit of time now, wanting to deal with the peacock issue.”

It poses the question: Why wasn’t anything done about it then? Why, after years of pleading for help, do we have a homeowner still frustrated to the point of taking matters into his own hands?

If these were dogs, the city would have been all over it.

Brar is taking his lumps – and rightfully so – for cutting the tree down.

But the city should take theirs too.



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

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