Executive has a rooted discussion about trees

Lisa Goudy
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Trees were quite the topic of discussion on Monday.

Dean Ubell talks to executive committee about trees planted outside the fence at the Aug. 25, 2014 meeting.

Earl and Judy Leisle and Dean and Aaron Ubell appeared before executive committee to request that the 24 trees planted behind fences be allowed to remain. The properties in question were 30 and 34 Holly Crescent.

The trees were planted on city property without an application and are in contravention of the city’s miscellaneous bylaw. The city has requested the trees be removed. The trees were planted three or four years ago.

“The whole reason we did this was for beautification,” said Dean Ubell. “There’s nothing behind our fence. It’s kind of an open section of grass, dandelions. It was very un-kept since we moved in about five years ago.

“We had lots of weeds growing up. We cut the weeds down, cut the grass, we put some rock down and we planted some trees back there just to beautify the area.”

Executive committee voted in favour of Coun. Brian Swanson’s motion to revoke the order and allow the trees to remain in place. Behind the properties is a 10-meter stretch including a path and a row of bushes along Ninth Avenue Northwest.

“It’s relatively secluded from everybody else except the property owners by that row of bushes,” said Swanson, adding city maintenance for that area is mowing two to three times a year. “Although some of these trees may be planted too close together, in another 10 or 15 years that can be dealt with at that time. We don’t have the money to increase maintenance to provide that area.

“It then falls upon individuals to seize the initiative and to look after the property adjacent to theirs and I think that’s an asset to the city.”

The issue was that while it looks nice, it is encroaching on city property and the trees ultimately become the city’s responsibility, explained Jody Hauta, director of parks and recreation.

“We don’t have a budget or a plan for maintaining these trees in the future because we have numerous parks trees and also numerous trees on our boulevards that we have to maintain,” he said.

However, Mayor Deb Higgins said while she doesn’t want to “discourage anyone from beautification,” she read about an area on the south side of the city where residents planted trees along the back.

“Residents have changed and it’s kind of a mess,” she said. “Nobody looks after it anymore so it falls to the city. I mean it’s not an easy area to get at. So I’m really torn on this one because I can see the worst case scenario.”

Matt Noble, city manager, said the potential concerns could’ve been avoided if the proper process had been followed, first by filing an application.

“That’s the reason we have the bylaw, not to prevent people from doing it, but to allow people to approach us in an orderly fashion that would be acceptable and cost-effective for everyone,” he said.

Swanson’s motion was carried with Higgins and Coun. Heather Eby opposed.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

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