More rules still needed for trees on private development lots

This article by Mona Rose Butler was first posted on February 24, 2016. You can view the original post here.

The City of Surrey has published the draft of their Shade Tree Management Plan 2015-2035, for which they are now seeking public input.

The plan outlines the importance of trees within the community and has been developed as a living document with updates recommended every 5 years. This plan does not cover forest stand trees, as those are already covered by the city’s Natural Area Management Plan.

David Dalley, convenor of Village Surrey Transition Initiative, applauds the plan but would like to see the same standards applied to City property applied to private properties as well.

“I think the City is doing pretty well managing trees in public spaces, but things are pretty dismal on the private development side of things,” he said.

Village Surrey’s goal is to get citizens involved in their community and one of the ways they do this is the Earth Walk. It emerged out of “grassroots desire to celebrate the positive initiatives that we are seeing in Surrey” and will include shade trees as well as community gardens, LEED buildings, green spaces, aquaponic projects and permaculture demonstration sites.

“I am glad to see that this document acknowledges the “hard” benefits of trees, such as “carbon sequestration and reduced CO2 emissions.” I am also glad to see that it acknowledges the “soft” benefits of trees such as: “…spiritual connection to nature.” Trees are one of those things that we take for granted until they’re gone and it is too late,” he said, quoting from the plan.

Laila Yuile, a resident of Surrey for the past 10 years, has noticed that many of the newer neighbourhoods lack any shade tree at all.

“Surrey needs to double down with all the trees lost. Few large shade trees in parks for families in summer,” she said,”[The plan] sounds good, but the issue will always be enforcement & compliance with large tree cutting. When it comes to development, many developers will simply cut and pay the fines as cost of business.”

Another project that Dalley facilitates is the “I grieve” project. A public art project that allows people the chance to grieve the lose of green space in their community. The week the plan was being circulated, a photo was submitted of a development lot on King George Blvrd where he said many large shade tree were torn up.

“It would be great to take some of the standards outlined for City property and apply them to private development,” Dalley said.