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VIDEO: Trees chopped for construction leave Saanich home feeling like ‘heat dome’

Homeowner laments trees she’s known since childhood being lost to Shelbourne Street work

Gone are the days of shade in the summer for Adrianne Wicks after a construction project started working in front of her Saanich home.

The Shelbourne Street Improvement Project moved into its second phase in August 2022, which honed in on working right outside of Wicks’ house on the corner of Shelbourne and Knight Street.

“It’s been really difficult,” said Wicks. “There’s been a lot of destruction to the trees, and the ecosystem here in the summertime. It was like a heat dome with all the trees cut down, there’s no shade on the street anymore.”

To add bike lanes and make several other improvements, the district has cut down trees around Wicks’ house and is looking to cut down a tree on her front lawn that she’s known since her childhood. She grew up climbing the deciduous tree, as did multiple generations of her family and the neighbourhood.

“I’ll fight to the end for this tree,” said Wicks. “When I was young, we used to play kick the can, and the neighbourhood kids would all come and hide in these trees. So the trees carry a lot of memories.”

The tree is also the only thing standing in the way of flashing construction vehicle lights into Wicks’ daughter’s room before sunrise. To heighten Wicks’ stress about the situation, her daughter struggles with a seizure disorder.

“This is a real health and safety concern for her,” said Wicks.

Wicks said she has written several letters to the Saanich council, but they’ve all been ignored. However, she did receive a Facebook response from one councillor who offered sympathy, but told her there was nothing that could be done.

In a statement made to Black Press Media, Saanich said its staff have been working with owners along Shelbourne Street to mitigate the impact to adjacent properties as improvements are made to the area.

“Saanich is aware of Ms. Wicks concerns related to the trees that will be impacted on her property, and staff have been in communication with her about her concerns,” the district said.

The second phase of the Shelbourne Street project stretches from Pear Street and North Dairy Road. It includes significant upgrades on McRae Avenue, Freeman Avenue, Derby Road, and a bike lane connector to the University of Victoria.

READ MORE: Construction to start on second phase of Saanich’s Shelbourne Street Improvement Project

Underground utility work at the intersection of North Dairy Road and Shelbourne Street is expected to finish around the end of February, according to the district. Saanich has warned about traffic delays in the area and encourages commuters to avoid the intersection if possible.

Phase two of the construction is estimated to be completed by the end of 2024. Phase three is anticipated to start in the summer of 2024 and be finished 20 months later.

Residents and travellers aren’t the only ones enduring the impacts of construction. Wicks said squirrels, owls, crows and even raccoons have been displaced.

“They’re not pleasant animals, but they still make their home here.”

READ MORE: Victoria expedites plan to replace Shelbourne parking with bike lanes

About the Author: Ella Matte

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