Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Public Oak Trees Lost to Private Development?
Sometimes it seems that to engage in a "tree watch" is to engage in a death watch. The stumps above are all that is left of a clump of oaks on Brighton Avenue that (long ago) I used to walk by every day on my way to school. They were part of what made the walk pleasant, and part of the tree inventory that made Oak Bay green, leafy and attractive. Then one day, after decades, the trees are gone -- sacrificed because private home-owners are permitted to build on their lot, turning the surrounding street and public pathway into a construction site for months, reducing Oak Bay's green inventory and extending its paved space.
Why do successive municipal councils allow this to happen? What legislative tools might be devised that would protect green space? Why do trees not have "standing" in themselves? Why is the fact that public land destruction results, not sufficient grounds for refusing permission for private "development" (i.e. landscape degradation)?
In a recent display of tree imagery at the Oak Bay Public Library, the OB Green Committee supplied the information that of a couple of hundred trees cut down since the tree protection bylaw was put in place, only a handful of trees were replaced with new plantings, although the bylaw requires it. Why does Council not enforce their own bylaws? Will the trees pictured above be replaced by those who make a profit on subdividing the property behind them?