Possible heritage oak in Clayton to be cut down

Frank Bucholtz (hand raised) explains to the City of Surrey’s Sheena Fisher (at left) April 15 why an old oak tree on 74 Avenue in Clayton should not be chopped down. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Frank Bucholtz (hand raised) explains to the City of Surrey’s Sheena Fisher (at left) April 15 why an old oak tree on 74 Avenue in Clayton should not be chopped down. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Concerned residents chat with the City of Surrey’s Sheena Fisher April 15 about the oak tree (background, middle) on the site of the soon-to-be constructed Regent school. Fisher said the tree can’t be saved, but residents disagree. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Concerned residents chat with the City of Surrey’s Sheena Fisher April 15 about the oak tree (background, middle) on the site of the soon-to-be constructed Regent school. Fisher said the tree can’t be saved, but residents disagree. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
A site map shows the layout for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. The yellow square shows the location of an existing tree that will be incorporated into the final design. The Blue dot shows the location of the old oak tree that is to be removed. (Via Surrey Schools)A site map shows the layout for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. The yellow square shows the location of an existing tree that will be incorporated into the final design. The Blue dot shows the location of the old oak tree that is to be removed. (Via Surrey Schools)
Five or more trees stand in the middle of the construction site for Maddaugh Road Elementary School, a new school a few blocks away from the Regent Road Elementary School site. Jim Foulkes is asking that an accomodation like this be made for the oak tree on 74 Avenue. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Five or more trees stand in the middle of the construction site for Maddaugh Road Elementary School, a new school a few blocks away from the Regent Road Elementary School site. Jim Foulkes is asking that an accomodation like this be made for the oak tree on 74 Avenue. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Despite garnering a lot of publicity, a heritage oak tree on 74 Avenue in Clayton Heights seems destined to be chopped down.

The City says the tree is in the way of where a new sidewalk will be built outside the soon-to-be constructed Regent Road Elementary School.

Sheena Fisher, park operations coordinator for the City of Surrey’s Land Development Department, met with a group of about 10 concerned area residents at the school site to tell them why the tree couldn’t be retained.

“Engineering has quite a few different requirements — as far as grades, and cross-sections, and falls, and also a whole bunch of utilities — that we need to get in, both under the road profile and within the new frontage that we’re achieving,” Fisher explained. “That includes parking, sidewalks, street lighting, and then there’s also the impacts that are coming in from the school side.”

Fisher said the tree was not on the school’s property, but on city land which would need to be developed to make way for a boulevard. “(The tree is) in direct conflict with the sidewalk.”

Fisher added the tree will be near the pick-up and drop-off area of the school. “So it is really important for us that we have a really safe boulevard, generally, but in this location, where it’s going to be really congested, really busy, lots of kids, ensuring that we meet the safety standards of engineering are going to be really critical,” Fisher noted.

The tree in question was brought to the public’s attention a few months ago, in January, when area resident Jim Foulkes started to advocate that the tree be saved because he said it was a heritage tree. (See story below.)

SEE ALSO: Surrey may lose another heritage tree

After Foulkes raised a ruckus, the tree was discussed at a Feb. 12 meeting of the Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission. Michael Gibbs, the SHAC commissioner, said at the time those present at the meeting agreed trees that have an aesthetic and historical significance should not be lost.

(The tree is located at 18717 74 Ave. — the former George Whitehead Farm, see page 11 of the linked PDF — along what was formerly known as Regent Road, pre-1957.)

The tree was then placed in the City’s hands to determine what would happen to it.

Fisher said a review was recently completed and the school board would be starting their frontage works — which includes chopping down the tree — very shortly.

“It’s morally wrong to cut down the tree,” Foulkes said to Fisher, “when you could just adjust the plan.”

Area resident (and Black Press Media columnist) Frank Bucholtz also expressed his concern. Bucholtz said the City pays lip service to preserving heritage trees, but he rarely sees any protected at all.

“Development and real estate rule this city and they have ruled it since the 1950s,” explained Bucholtz. “We don’t want a repeat of what happened in East Clayton.” Bucholtz said all the large trees in East Clayton cut down by developers.

“The root protection zone for this tree is almost eight metres. So it’s fairly significant,” said Fisher. “We wouldn’t be able to chase enough space, to give it enough root zone, for it to survive long term.”

SEE ALSO: Cloverdale heritage oak tree may be saved

“Someone has to take the positive attitude that it can be done,” added Foulkes. “This can be done if we do this. That’s what’s missing here.”

Fisher admitted that if the design was changed, then the tree could be saved. She said if the sidewalk was to go around the tree, and thus onto school property, the school board would have to be willing to make the accommodation, but that the planning department wasn’t going to ask the school board to look at that as an option.

“It can be done,” said Fisher. “Currently, engineering is not willing to relax their standards to the point they would need to save this tree. Planning is not interested in engaging the school board to redesign their project at this point in the (process).”

“They moved the freeway for Charlie Perkins’ tree,” shouted a man in attendance.

Fisher then said the City took a long look at the project from an engineering perspective. “After reviewing it, the City decided it’s important for us to keep a functional boulevard.”

Bucholtz said he understands why City Hall is very reluctant to make accommodations for these types of things.

“Those few of us that are interested in the environment, and the history of this city, get shouted out by developers, realtors, and other people who have money and influence — both political and otherwise,” he explained. “We’ve lived in Clayton for 33 years. We know what this community is like. We don’t want to see this community destroyed and become exactly like East Clayton, where there is not a tree standing. We don’t want this area developed like that. I’m not very impressed that the City can’t be a little more flexible on some of these issues.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey Heritage commission approves tree removal

Gibbs told Fisher the City’s departments, the school board, and the heritage committee need to work on projects from the beginning so they can work to accommodate the wishes of residents when it comes to big projects.

“They need to work together to satisfy the taxpayers who are paying for this,” said Gibbs. “It’s silly for us to be paying to take down heritage trees.”

“It’s all owned by taxpayers,” added Bucholtz. “It’s all owned by all of us. Whether it’s the school district, or the City, it’s all owned by taxpayers.”

Foulkes said he’s not giving up yet. He said plans to contact everyone at City Hall to let them know the tree can be saved and to offer advice on possible solutions to save the tree.

Fisher added that she was going to take the residents concerns back to the City and let them know residents don’t want the tree chopped down.

“That tree is not coming down,” added resident Lorraine Jones. “If I have to chain myself to that tree, I will. It’s not going anywhere.”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The emergency department at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, B.C., in July 2020. (Black Press Media)
Peace Arch Hospital Foundation reaches $12 million goal

New operating suites to open this fall

Peace Arch Hospital Foundation executive director Stephanie Beck speaks at a 2017 groundbreaking ceremony. In March 2020, she announced the Rapid Response Grant Program, aimed at providing financial assistance during the pandemic. (File photo)
Peace Arch Hospital Foundation launches youth program

Youth in Action designed for students who want to make an impact in their community

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Surrey RCMP asking for dash-cam video of ‘suspicious incident’

Incident involves a newer model Toyota Rav 4 SUV

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read