Trees around this time of year are expected to be wrapped in bows, but some trees Saanich aren’t decorative, they’re marking some Garry Oaks for removal.
“Twenty-nine trees are going to be removed and another 20 will be severely impacted. By my math that’s a total of about 50 trees,” said neighbour Simon McVaugh-Smock.
Just over 19 kilometres of the pipe is set to be installed to connect the new waste treatment plant at Mcloughlin Point to Hartland Landfill. And the many trees lining a stretch of Grange road in Saanich, are set to be collateral.
“It’s a street that Garry Oaks that form a kind of a canopy on both sides of the street,” said McVaughn-Smock.
Garry Oaks and their associated ecosystems are among the most endangered in Canada. Less than five per cent of the original habitat remains, and neighbours were stunned to find out just last week that the Capital Regional District intends to remove nearly 50 of them.
“It was just shocking. I’ve lived here for 40 years and I just can’t imagine changing the feel and the look of the street,” said neighbour Robin Duncan.
They’re also upset with what they say is a lack of public process.
“The knowledge that we were going to lose these trees came only a week ago. Is that acceptable?” asked neighbour and former CRD Chair David Cubberly.
The CRD held open houses in Saanich last week about the construction, but residents say they weren’t meaningful and that a decision was already made.
And residents weren’t the only ones left in the dark, many on Saanich’s council also didn’t know about this plan.
“As far as I know there was no prior consultation about this with Saanich staff. I did talk to councillor Plant who is also the CRD Chair and he was just finding out about it now,” said Saanich Coun. Natalie Chambers.
While everyone seems to catch up, residents are calling for the plans to change.
“They’re trying to slip this past the neighbourhood and it just isn’t on. They don’t need to put that pipe where they’re proposing to put it. There are all kinds of other options, with zero environmental damages. That’s what we expect them to do,” said Cubberly.
And now, the CRD says they will be looking into other routes for the pipes.
“We have heard from residents about the work along Grange Road and are reviewing our plans for this section of construction to determine if there are any feasible options to reduce the impacts to trees,” said Elizabeth Scott, Deputy Project Director for the CRD wastewater treatment project.
But some residents say they that’s not good enough and they won’t be risking any tree taken down.