Photo by Tom Zytaruk

ZYTARUK: And just like that, Surrey’s trees disappear

Some consider it progress. Others, a path to peril

homelessphoto

So let it be written…

If you like trees, and oxygen, the following account of Surrey city council’s meeting this past Monday night might just take your breath away.

Some consider it progress. Others, a path to peril.

The meeting served up scads of mostly small land development applications after which Deb Jack, of Surrey Environmental Partners, made certain to remind the politicians the tally of trees each project would remove from this city if approved.

At seven minutes into the meeting, came the first. “On this site, 25 of 26 trees are to be killed off,” Jack tells council from her podium. Climate change, she notes, “is not a political issue, it’s a life issue.”

The second application was heard at 11 minutes. Jack is back on her feet. She’ll be out of her seat more often than faithful Catholics on a Sunday morning. “Seventy-six of 76 trees are going to be killed off, of which 59 are alder which we now understand are super-carbonators. As always, we are concerned for the canopy that’s going to be lost and the related ecosystems lost.”

“Thank you for your comments, madam,” Mayor Doug McCallum replies.

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The third, at 13 minutes, involved a proposal to build a six-storey apartment building containing 80 dwelling units. This time Cheryl Morgan, a neighbour, speaks. “There’s 33 trees on the property that all are said that they will be cut down, every single tree there,” she tells council. “There’s nothing that’s going to replace those trees – they’ll be putting like genetically modified trees there.”

“There’s nobody to speak up for the little creatures,” she says. “I agree with people who want to save the trees.”

“Thank you for your comments, madam,” Mayor Doug McCallum replies.

Surrey resident Annie Kaps also spoke to the loss of trees. “People have got to realize that’s where our oxygen comes from,” she says.

“Thank you very much for your comments,” Mayor Doug McCallum replies.

Jack is back. “On this site, 34 of 34 trees are going to be killed off, of which 23 are Douglas Fir,” she notes.

“Thank you for you comments, madam,” Mayor Doug McCallum replies.

The applicant then told council as a point of “clarification” that 67 trees will be replaced “instead of 23.”

“Thank you very much, sir,” Mayor Doug McCallum replies.

At 20 minutes into Monday’s meeting, Jack is back, trying to save shrubs from another land development proposal.

“Thank you for your comments, madam.”

At 22 minutes, yet another application, and yet another axe-tally from Jack. “Twenty-one of 39 trees are going to be killed,” she says.

“Thank you for your comments, madam.”

So what happened?

Within 90 seconds, and with no debate, all these applications received a majority of council’s approval in a rapid-fire flurry of “All in favour, against, carried.”

It’s a shame trees in this city have roots instead of legs.

Otherwise, they could run for their lives.

So let it be done.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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