Tree removal angers Point Grey residents
Residents of a quiet, leafy Vancouver street are upset about trees being cut down in their Point Grey neighbourhood. They say they don’t understand why Mayor Gregor Robertson talks about creating an “urban forest” yet city hall is allowing trees to be felled.
“The mayor is wanting a greener city, so on the right hand they’re paying money to plant trees, and on the left hand they’re giving [tree-cutting] permits,” Susan Rungta told the Straight in an interview.
On October 17, council approved a motion by Robertson directing staff to draft an “urban forest action plan”. Last Saturday (October 20), Rungta and two of her neighbours on West 1st Avenue walked around their neighbourhood to show a reporter spots where they say trees have been removed recently with the city’s approval.
Of particular concern to them were six huge trees on the southeast corner of Bellevue Drive and West 2nd Avenue, located on what they suspect is city property. They are also dismayed by the loss of a number of fruit-bearing and street trees on what they claim is city land beside a new house being constructed on the northeast corner of West 1st Avenue and Sasamat Street. “They were lovely trees,” Lori Matick recalled to the Straight.
Rungta and Don Freeman have sent separate emails to Robertson, and both said on October 20 that they have yet to hear from the mayor.
Freeman said he has been communicating with city staff and is exasperated that city hall isn’t about to stop what he sees as the destruction of the neighbourhood’s streetscape. Vicki Potter, director of development services for the city, informed Freeman in an email that the tree bylaw allows owners of properties being redeveloped to remove any trees in the new building’s footprint, as well as one additional tree on the property every 12 months. Potter was responding to a specific query by Freeman in connection with other instances of tree removal that are occurring on private properties on West 1st Avenue.
The city’s communications department didn’t respond to a Straight request for information related to the residents’ complaints.