Del Monte Avenue is a beautiful area near Cordova Bay in Saanich where the housing market is upscale and mature trees are abundant.
Some worry this abundance is in jeopardy, however, if more residential density continues to be placed on once important habitats, including area resident Karla Krane.
Following a period of public consultation in 2018, a rezoning of a property at 5117 Del Monte Ave. was approved by council to allow for the creation of three additional lots, for a total of four.
With the residential project underway, Krane objects to the removal of mature trees on the lots and said Saanich’s response to her criticism has been inadequate.
“There has been the suggestion that we need more affordable housing and that this development is a response to the housing crisis. It’s just not honest or true, they’re not creating housing for anyone but the super-wealthy,” she said. She’s also frustrated by claims the trees removed were not healthy – what she described as a ‘convenient excuse.’
A statement from Saanich to Black Press Media said the district encourages new developments to address sustainability measures. In accordance with the approved development application, tree removal permits are active, it said. A total of 21 replacement trees will be planted on the properties, along with four on the boulevard.
“This development also permits secondary suites as a housing option that provides for alternative forms of rental accommodation and supportive housing for immediate family members,” wrote Saanich communications manager Erika Schade.
As the project was in its approval process, Saanich Parks reviewed the arborist report and was satisfied the plan met Saanich’s tree bylaw requirements were met.
Staff also noted the site and building design limits house sizes, resulting in more open spaces and more opportunities to protect trees and other vegetation.
Coun. Judy Brownoff is an advocate for maintaining mature trees and emphasizes their importance in curbing the climate crisis.
“It’s time for us to get more creative. We need to work around mature trees and maintain their standing and the habitats within those trees,” she said, voicing her disappointment at seeing such trees continually coming down in the district.
Krane said wise development in the midst of the climate crisis is vital. She hoped that Saanich staff and council will listen to legitimate concerns from the public more readily in the future.