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Removal of 37 mature trees prompts letter to Salmon Arm council

Resident wants to see city adopt urban forest strategy that would see more trees preserved
Salmon Arm resident John Crook included this photo with a letter to city council of the sight remaining after the trees next to his residence on 30th Avenue NE were removed. (Photo contributed)

A Salmon Arm resident suggested ideas for an urban forest strategy for the city after 37 mature maple, fir and cedar trees were cut down around a property neighbouring his.

“Recent densification in the North Broadview neighbourhood and around Salmon Arm in general has raised the issue of how the community manages the forested environment in our treed community. I am not alone in expressing some concern about how the tree cover in our city is being managed as development proceeds,” wrote resident John Crook in a May 5 letter to city council.

He said trees were felled next door to his home on 30th Avenue NE as a result of a municipal requirement to put in place half a road and a right-of-way for future road development.

“This development might be an object lesson which could be useful in forming an urban forest strategy for Salmon Arm, possibly as an environmental sub-component of the next OCP (official community plan),” he wrote.

Crook pointed out that the 37 trees cut down around the perimeter of the 1.5-acre property by far exceeded the number felled on the rest of the site.

“So much for tree conservation since it was all for future City road works. With some creative road and sidewalk placement many of these trees could have been saved.”

He said six trees of note were felled in the middle of the property: one mature chestnut; one 80+ year-old oak; one 30-year-old spruce planted by the previous owner and his son; and three mature fir trees.

“I strongly suggest that the Environment Committee look into a strategy for replacing mature trees which are cut down, often on what will become City property once the development is finished. The City might consider the “Fire Smart Landscaping Guide” to determine what sort of fire resistant trees can be transplanted (possibly 3 or more for each tree felled) without causing a safety threat or fire hazard in Salmon Arm. Fire Smart does not require all trees to be removed from a development site, so it is important to have a strategic think about how best to manage Salmon Arm’s urban forest, and find a balance between forest fire protection measures and other treed environmental considerations,” Crook wrote.

He also asked if trees are felled from lands which are intended for municipal roads in new developments, should the city not be responsible for taking measures to replace them as part of the urban forest along city roadways and on city lands.

“Ideally, developers might offer trees to their clients on the lots they sell to add to attractiveness of the lots.”

As for his home, he said this summer will reveal “if the sun shining through missing trees will excessively heat our older and un-air-conditioned house. Until now, the temperature dropped comfortably by mid-afternoon once the sun was shaded by the trees to the west. One estimate of the cost of air conditioning our house came in at over $6,000.

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Coun. Sylvia Lindgren, chair of the city’s environmental advisory committee (EAC), told council she met with Crook, who “seems like a pretty educated and reasonable kind of guy.”

She said she was bringing up the letter “because I think it speaks to the concern we’re hearing from a number of people in the Salmon Arm area.”

Lindgren noted Salmon Arm has a beautiful tree canopy.

“I think it would be fairly close to unanimous that we don’t want to lose that ambience and that shade protection,” she said, adding a reminder that the EAC did a review of the ‘tree removal bylaw,’ which made a recommended change to ‘tree preservation bylaw.’

“I hope that in the not too distant future we’re able to work collaboratively with staff on alternatives to just cutting down trees and not replacing them, such as perhaps moving sidewalks one way or another so they go around the trees, or infrastructure, having a tree bank so that trees get replanted after they’ve been cut down, things like that.”

A lot of creative solutions are being used in other municipalities and she hopes Salmon Arm will follow in their footsteps, she commented.

Mayor Alan Harrison thanked her, adding, “We do look forward to the recommendations from the EAC coming back to council.”

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John Crook submitted a photo to Salmon Arm council of the trees next door to his home on 30th Avenue NE prior to them being cut down to accommodate a development. (Photo contributed)

Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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