A Saanich neighbourhood is rallying against plans by the Capital Regional District to cut down up to 50 trees as part of efforts to improve regional sewage treatment.
Simon McVaugh-Smock, who speaks for a group of some 30 Saanich residents living in the Marigold area, says installation of a pipeline connecting the future wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt with the Hartland Landfill in Saanich will lead to the loss of 30 trees along the eastern side of Grange Road, with 20 more trees in danger. The residual solids conveyance line runs for 19.3 kilometres and carries biosolids for treatment into Class A biosolids.
McVaugh-Smock said he received confirmation of these plans during a CRD-organized neighbourhood forum last month.
“It’s going to very much change the whole character of neighbourhood,” he said, adding it will also hurt local flora and fauna.
According to McVaugh-Smock, 80 per cent of the trees are endangered Garry oaks, with the remaining ones large, old Douglas firs. Local animals including owls also depend on the trees for habitat and survival, he said.
The neighbourhood is currently mobilizing public opposition against the project by reaching out to media and officials including Coun. Ned Taylor. It is not clear when work on the pipeline will begin, he said, adding CRD officials have spoken of a start date between January and March 2019.
McVaugh-Smock also accused the CRD of trying to keep the information about the project to a minimum.
“There has been no official notice of the plan to neighborhood residents as far as we can tell,” he said. “We suspect that the CRD may have wanted to keep the project low profile in order to stifle opposition until the project was about to begin.”
While McVaugh-Smock said he is not sure on whose land the trees stand, he believes they fall under Saanich’s jurisdiction.
The Saanich News reached out to the municipality for comment and will add it to this story as it becomes available.
The CRD said in a response that it has chosen to run the pipe underneath Grange Road for a number of reasons including minimizing construction impacts such as blasting, the location of existing municipal utilities, and the work’s duration.
“We heard from residents about the work along Grange Road and are reviewing our plans for this section of work to determine if there are any feasible options to minimize the impacts to trees,” it reads.
The CRD statement also says that the project has a commitment to replace every tree cut down with two others in a location to be determined by the municipality.
The CRD added the construction along Grange Road would allow for installation of sidewalk, curb and gutter improvements.
“Replacement of the trees two for one sounds good, but the trees that will be removed are large and mature Garry Oak and Douglas fir, many of which predated the development of our neighborhood,” said McVaugh-Smock. “The replacements will be much smaller and the impact will be tremendous for generations, both for city residents and local wildlife systems. They cannot say that the work will not devastate our neighborhood and its character.”
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