The battle over 79 maple trees next to University of B.C. is headed to to court.
The trees, most of them with big leafy canopies, line both sides of Wesbrook Crescent, a street on the University Endowment Lands which is located between the city of Vancouver and UBC.
The manager of the UEL has said 15 of the trees have to be removed annually because they’re dangerous to the public.
Residents disagree. They say the decision to remove the trees was made without any input from the community and without an independent arborist’s report.
The UEL was among the parties notified Friday of the Supreme Court of B.C. petition to set aside the tree removal decision.
Chris Wall, a resident of Wesbrook Crescent who is one of the petitioners and spokesman for the group of concerned residents, said he bought into the neighbourhood in part because of the greenery and privacy provided by the trees.
“The curtain goes up this time of year,” Wall said, about how the leafy tree canopies muffle noise and create a privacy screen every spring. “Tree-lined streets are beautiful.”
Since the UEL announced the tree removal last December , the residents organized and then hired an arborist to assess the trees.
In a 69-page inventory and management plan, Bartlett Tree Experts numbered and assessed each Norway maple tree. It said 32 of the maples are in good condition, 41 in fair and six, poor. The report recommended removing five trees.
Wall said that the UEL did not commission its own independent arborist to write a report and assess each tree for safety or long-term survivability.
He said there’s no documentation supporting the UEL’s decision, and the UEL didn’t consult with residents about the trees.
“The manager made an arbitrary decision to remove them,” Wall said.
Wesbrook Crescent runs north/south beside Wesbrook Mall, a busy thoroughfare on the university campus. Traffic includes buses such as the B-line.
A high hedge runs on the west side of the crescent, separating mall traffic from the quiet residential street; above the hedge are some of the canopies of the trees slated for removal.
The UEL is a unique administrative region in the Lower Mainland. Instead of an elected council, the unincorporated community of about 4,000 people is governed by the province and administered by a manager appointed by the minister of municipal affairs and housing.
The UEL did not respond by deadline about being taken to court over the trees.
In a previous story , UEL manager John Braman said he believes the trees are putting people at risk.
“Public safety is the priority,” he told Postmedia News in January.
Wall said in the 17 years he’s lived in the neighbourhood, three branches have fallen to the ground that he had observed.
“The manager’s reason for removing the trees is safety,” he said.
“He believes the trees on our street are dangerous. We have a difference of opinion on that.”
Wall thinks municipal affairs minister Selina Robinson will have to intervene.
“I would suggest that nothing is going to change until the minister gives the manager of the UEL a directive.”
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