Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tree Concern 'fabircation'

I am posting this piece from the Peninsula News because it relates to one of the candidates, Sue Stroud. Sue is very concerned about the livablity of Brentwood Bay, but seems to have made an error.

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Tree concern ‘fabrication’

Fliers anonymously delivered to Central Saanich homes asked for support in pressuring council to save a maple tree that was never considered for removal.

Impassioned letters about the tree located on public land near Brentwood Bay Lodge were brought before council, which agreed the status of the tree was a non-issue. Nobody asked it to be cut down.

“I see this as an opportunity to take a shot at council,” Councillor Bob Thompson said after the meeting. “It was a shot that should never have been fired.”

The landscape plans for the lodge to develop its OceanVillas are publicly available and show that the tree will be retained, with a deliberate design decision to make driveway access through the existing parking lot — not Brentwood Drive — to minimize development impacts on the existing vegetation.

But nobody asked to see these plans before the flier was distributed.

“People don’t realize that [municipal] staff negotiate [with developers] to protect trees,” said Thompson. “People focus on what goes, rather than what we work hard to keep.”

Sue Stroud, who is running for a position on Central Saanich council this fall, posted the plea to save the tree on her blog and told the Peninsula News Review that she printed the fliers, because she said there was a ribbon on the tree that made her think it would be cut as the lodge expands.

Lodge owner Dan Behune said that was a fabrication and he was not aware of any ribbon. The lodge arborist has actually trimmed back ivy that was damaging the tree.

“Nobody is more devoted to protecting trees than we are,” he said. “They add value to the facility.”

Stroud admits that she should have checked more thoroughly into the status of the maple tree. “It’s a lesson learned,” she said.

She removed a photo of the tree from her blog with the caption “maple to be cut,” and edited a July 13 post to read, “The maple … is to be saved apparently, but citizens will have to be watchful.”

She said she remains unconvinced that the tree won’t be cut.

“Council will only say it’s not their intention to cut it, we need a promise,” she said. “We need fines when trees do get damaged.”

Last week, council did approve a long-awaited tree protection bylaw that will ensure trees larger than 60 centimetres in diameter cannot be cut from existing developments without a permit.

editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

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