White Rock council has reaffirmed its decision that it would sooner have TransLink replace double-decker buses on its 354 route than have the city replace or prune existing trees.
On a split vote at its Dec. 7 meeting, council defeated a motion by Mayor Darryl Walker to rescind its original decision on the matter, made on July 27.
Walker told council that TransLink had asked for reconsideration of tree trimming for the 354, since it is one of the most popular bus routes through South Surrey and White Rock, connecting the community with the Richmond Skytrain station.
“The sense is that the trees that we talked about in the past need to be pruned in order for the double-deckers to run,” he said.
“If we don’t agree with it, then the chances are the double-deckers will go somewhere else and will be replaced by single-deck buses,” he added.
“Unfortunately the process, because of what has happened over the last six months, is such that they’re not sure what they can replace the buses with at this point, so it’s something to be seriously considered.”
Opposing the motion were Couns. Christopher Trevelyan, David Chesney, Erika Johanson and Scott Kristjanson, while those in favour were Walker and seconder Coun. Anthony Manning.
“There was no new information from the last time this was brought before us,” Chesney said.
“The last time prompted me to follow the 354 route. I think if any members of council took the time to do that, they, too, would be scratching their head about the requirement to trim as many of the trees as has been requested.”
City engineering and operations manager Jim Gordon revisited a staff report from July that outlined what tree work would be necessary to comply with TransLink’s request.
“There are 16 trees involved and they’re primarily in and around the Five Corners area,” he said. “One of the trees would need to be replaced as well.
Kristjanson said that while he felt the intentions behind the motion were good, he did not believe TransLink has given the Semiahmoo Peninsula good service.
“The 354… is used a lot, but they’re giving us an option of a double-decker versus a community bus, and double-deckers means trimming trees and trees should come before convenience to TransLink,” he said.
“In my opinion, there’s also double-length buses they haven’t given us an option for – they’re giving us the standard buses that exist today. It’s just a cost-savings for them but it’s de-greening our community.”
Trevelyan had asked for updated information on the tree-trimming involved, recalling that the report from July called for some “significant tree-hacking.”
“I’d be supportive of rescinding if we had some update on reducing less of our tree canopy,” he said.