For the third straight Oak Bay council meeting a homeowner appealed the municipal arborist report and asked council for permission to remove a healthy tree.
This time it was Bill Ritchie at 3260 Exeter Rd. in the Uplands seeking to remove to mature Garry oaks. Ritchie had an unique case in that he and his partner built a new home on the property a few years ago and at that time, they could have removed the two Garry oaks in question. If the municipal arborist denies a tree removal application, homeowners in Oak Bay can appeal it before council.
On Sept. 30 the homeowners at 2861 Cadboro Bay Rd. were denied the removal of two large deodara pine trees. On Oct. 15 council denied the removal of a large spruce tree that stands prominent in Fireman’s Park at the back of the 1718 Monteith St.
Chris Hyde-Lay: there is some fill soil placed around these to oaks during recent construction but no decay was found.
(Keep in mind Oak Bay is trying to plant 5,000 trees in the next two decades.)
"The application was denied." CHL
— 🚽 🧻 (@TravisAPaterson) October 29, 2019
Though council did grant an appeal in June for a resident to take down a giant but healthy deodura cedrus in her yard on St. Patrick Street, council has now denied the past three tree removal applications. Monday’s request was denied in a unanimous vote. But with a light agenda (council only lasted one hour and 28 minutes on Monday), council took some time to carefully deliberate on the matter.
Mayor Kevin Murdoch questioned why the homeowners didn’t take these two Garry oaks down during construction, when they had the chance. (They since reverted to being protected by Oak Bay’s strict tree bylaw.)
“We wanted to keep them,” Ritchie said. “The trees survived blasting for construction and we were happy. But then a big oak came down, luckily no one was hurt. Another 1.5 years ago another oak came down. Why? We don’t know.”
Ritchie pointed to increased winds due to climate change as a possible reason and a threat to the two oaks.
However, the sentiment council expressed during the past two tree removals remained the same. Council supported the staff report despite the applicant’s argument he’s planted 40-plus trees since 2014 and 16 Japanese maples.
“I’ve unfortunately not heard anything from the experts to say that the danger you’re experiencing is any different than the danger I’m experiencing,” said Coun. Eric Zhelka. “I also have a number of old Garry oaks.”
Last week Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of Parks Services, said that while there are generally a few appeals each year to remove trees that were deemed healthy, seeing three in a row is an anomaly.
“We had 36 [tree removal] permit applications this month,” Hyde-Lay said. “Many were refusals.”