More than 90 trees were mistakenly cut down in Cuthbert Holmes Park on July 14. (Photo submitted by Dorothy Chambers)

More than 90 trees were mistakenly cut down in Cuthbert Holmes Park on July 14. (Photo submitted by Dorothy Chambers)

More than 50 trees ‘incorrectly’ felled in Saanich park

‘For this to happen is just devastating,’ councillor says

A stop-work order was issued shortly after more than 90 trees were mistakenly felled in Cuthbert Holmes Park on July 14.

Early on Wednesday, July 15, Saanich resident and environmental advocate Dorothy Chambers counted some 93 trees cut down behind Pearkes Recreation Centre.

Saanich later clarified that parks staff confirmed a total of 56 trees were incorrectly removed. Many of them were multi-stem trees – more than one trunk per tree.

The trees were cut as part of construction for a new daycare for Saanich Neighbourhood Place, said District spokesperson Megan Catalano.

The contractor received a tree removal permit from Saanich to remove one bylaw protected tree and a number of non-bylaw protected trees were also to be removed for the development, Catalano said.

“Unfortunately, the contractor made an error and removed trees which were not in the area where tree removal was to occur,” she said. “A stop-work order was placed on the site.”

In 2017, the previous council issued a development permit to Saanich Neighbourhood Place for the new, single-storey daycare facility to be built on the parking lot behind the arena. At the time, council also approved a $253,000 grant to assist with the cost of the project which was estimated at about $1.9 million.

READ ALSO: Saanich forks out $253,000 for non-profit daycare

Coun. Judy Brownoff was shocked to hear 93 trees had been cut. She was a member of the 2017 council and recalls after the permit was issued, Saanich staff toured the site with the contractor, Knappett Projects Inc., and an arborist to specify which trees could not be removed.

Brownoff said council was told the new building would be on the existing parking lot asphalt.

Two days before the stop-work order was issued, Chambers received an email from Saanich Parks, Recreation and Community Services saying Knappett contractors would begin work on July 14. After work began, a neighbour reached out to Chambers with concerns that trees were coming down behind his home near the Pearkes arena. She assumed the noise was part of regular work and possibly the installation of tree-protection fencing but she felt uneasy and went to check on Wednesday morning.

READ ALSO: Saanich council clears path for new daycare facility

After counting the felled trees, Chambers called the District of Saanich and reported the incident. Municipal staff then issued a stop-work order as the trees were cut in violation of the tree protection bylaw.

“All of us in Saanich are horrified,” Brownoff said. “For this to happen is just devastating.”

She added that council had “heard nothing about this project” for years until Chambers reached out about the trees that had been cut down.

“This was meant to be a positive project to introduce more daycare spaces to the community … now it’s environmental degradation,” Brownoff said.

Brownoff expects municipal staff will submit a report to council on the matter – likely to be discussed at a closed meeting due to the legal nature of the incident.

On July 17, Catalano said municipal staff were working with the contractor to “outline the problem and provide next steps” for removing the stop-work order. She added that there will likely be penalties.

Editors note: This story was updated July 21 to confirm the number of trees incorrectly removed.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of Saanich

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

Just Posted

Sipili Molia, regional kettle manager, shows off the Salvation Army’s new contactless donation system for the 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria raises record-breaking $350,000 for Salvation Army

The charity says it’s seen an increase in need since COVID-19 hit

Staff at Artemis Place Secondary were shocked to find that one of the student-built greenhouses on the campus was stolen overnight on Jan. 11. (Artemis Place Society/Facebook)
Saanich school hopes to catch greenhouse thief red-handed

Student-built greenhouses stolen from Artemis Place Secondary on Jan. 11

Forty-two residential properties in Oak Bay were assessed the speculation and vacancy tax in 2019 for a total of $693,000. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
74 Oak Bay property owners paid $693,000 in spec tax

42 properties were assessed with the SVT in 2019

Rendering shows murals decorating the proposed tiny home community in the Caledonia/Vancouver street parking lot next to Royal Athletic Park. (Courtesy Aryze Developments)
Tiny homes project on Victoria parking lot gets boost from council

Shipping container neighbourhood stems from Aryze Development idea

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

50 km/hr speed limit sign.
POLL: What do you think the speed limit should be on residential streets without a centre line?

Traffic on side streets around Greater Victoria could soon be travelling at… Continue reading

Jackie Hildering, whale researcher with the Marine Environment Research Society, and Nanaimo Area Land Trust will present the Return of Giants, a webinar about the humpback whales’ return from the brink of extinction and how boaters can help protect them. (Jackie Hildering/MERS photo taken under Marine Mammal License MML-42)
‘Return of the Giants:’ B.C. getting 2nd chance to coexist with humpback whales

‘Marine Detective’ partners with Nanaimo stewardship group on webinar

Luke Marston works on the seawolf mask for Canucks goalie Braden Holtby. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
B.C. Coast Salish artist designs new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

Most Read