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LETTER: Garry oaks sacrificed for development

In Paragraph 6 of the recent Saanich News story about council approving 7-2 the Abstract Development at 630 Gorge Rd. W. the Abstract spokesperson and proponent was cited as having been told by Saanich staff that they “did not consider [Garry oaks] a sensitive ecosystem.”

This was part of the justification for the decision to remove mature Garry oaks from the property with no effort at preservation. That Saanich staff would make such a statement is shocking and one would hope is not reflective of Saanich tree preservation policies or the viewpoint of mayor and council. Saanich is not yet Langford, where there is a noticeable absence of any will by staff or council to preserve urban trees or wooded areas, and the hills they stand on being destroyed to make way for the endless construction of more developments.

Clearly Saanich’s mayor and council need to have a full discussion, including public consultation, on what exactly is Saanich’s policy for tree protection. I quote the British Columbia government website on tree species in the province. In British Columbia, Garry oak is not grown for timber production; in fact, it is considered an endangered species as it grows mainly on private lands which are being developed for urban dwellings. Note, Garry oak “is considered an endangered species.” Yet, Saanich staff is apparently telling developers Garry oaks do not constitute “a sensitive ecosystem.”

Mark Zuehlke

Saanich