LETTER: Trees are a valuable part of Saanich’s infrastructure

LETTER: Trees are a valuable part of Saanich’s infrastructure

Saanich is replacing water and sewer pipes on Winchester Road, Parkside Crescent and Jamaica Road.

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On June 17 they posted a tree notice on four mature hornbeams on Jamaica Road. The notice stated, “This tree will be removed and replaced due to sewer, drain and water upgrades. If you require more information, contact Saanich Engineering.”

I sent an e-mail to Saanich Engineering, asking that they leave the mature trees in place. They have not yet replied.

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The District of Saanich website states “A municipality plays an essential role in helping citizens enjoy a sustainable region. This means providing the right services, which includes sidewalks, and trail maintenance.” Several photographs portray mature trees. The Saanich Tree Protection Bylaw states that any significant tree is considered protected.

The hornbeams on Jamaica Road are more than 30 centimeters in diameter at chest level, and have a large canopy of leaves.

In my opinion, these are significant trees. They provide shade and they even out rainfall. They provide nesting sites and food for several species of birds, including warblers and sparrows. They make the neighborhood feel safe and mature, and probably increase the value of nearby homes. The trunks and branches store carbon while the trees are alive, decreasing the concentration of atmospheric CO2.

It will take decades for replacement trees to provide the same ecological and social services which the current trees provide.

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The Saanich website says that the district is interested in engaging citizens in the maintenance of a sustainable region. What is the process by which the district decides to keep mature trees during an underground infrastructure renewal project?

Robert Shepherd

Saanich