Watkiss Way neighbours respond to tree cuts

Saanich residents association implores parties to engage in further discussions

The Residents Association of Strawberry Vale, Marigold and Glanford view the removal of tree cover in the District of Saanich as a serious matter.

For the District of Saanich, we have the following questions:

In 2013, a proposal was advanced to create a park from 28 acres of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) on Watkiss Way. Saanich Parks and Recreation undertook a process to have a report to council roughly by the end of 2013. What did the report say? What was council’s position?

If provincial legislation overrides the Tree Protection Bylaw, why does the bylaw imply that the municipality could regulate tree cutting on ALR lands?

The Tree Protection Bylaw seems to suggest that Saanich has discretion as to whether to issue a permit. Under that bylaw, Saanich also has the discretion to refuse to issue a permit or to issue a permit with conditions. All of these actions require policies. Where are they?

If Saanich did have discretion with respect to issuing this permit, were the following considered:

The environmental objectives in Saanich’s own document, the Rural Saanich Local Area Plan 2007, to: protect and restore trees and understory vegetation and wildlife habitat (emphasis added); and protect and restore fish habitat, watercourses and groundwater quality and quantity).

As far as we are concerned, the Tree Protection Bylaw has faced its first major test – and failed.

To Mr. Vandekerkove: We understand this land is private property and that your actions in removing these trees are apparently in accordance with existing legislation. We are disappointed that you would not consider discussing the possibility of the park with the municipality.  We urge you to change your mind.

We also understand you are not required to replace these trees. We strongly urge you to consider another option. Would you consider contributing to the replacement tree fund for the District of Saanich? We feel this may be worthy of some discussion considering the impact to the tree cover in the District of Saanich.

Funding tree replacements would allow Saanich to plant appropriate trees elsewhere in the municipality to offset this massive loss of forest cover.

Usually, within the District of Saanich, others who remove trees must replace them at a ratio of one for one or even two for one. Sadly, any replacement trees would be small relative to those we are losing, but it’s a start and would show your commitment to this municipality and the environment.

We feel that would be an honourable thing to do under these circumstances.

Richard S. Dominy, president,

Residents Assoc. of Strawberry Vale, Marigold and Glanford