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Delta needs to plant more trees, create new parks, says mayor

The city will look at planting more trees as well as parkland acquisition
Many of the trees to be removed from the large property are in good and moderate health. City of Delta report

The City of Delta needs to ramp up its tree planting.

That’s what Mayor George Harvie said during council’s June 19th meeting following approval of a North Delta duplex development, which drew a large crowd at municipal hall for a public hearing.

Insisting the city needs to accelerate its tree planting program over the next three years, Harvie asked for a staff report on the issue.

He also noted the city needs to do more when it comes to purchasing more land for parks, saying Delta has a reserve, but isn’t acting fast enough.

Harvie issued his comments as council gave third reading, following a public hearing, for an Official Community Plan amendment to subdivide a property into a 16-lot mixed single-detached residential and infill duplex development at 11488 92nd Ave.

The North Delta development includes four, single-detached houses and 12 duplex units.

The large property is situated between Annieville and Delview parks, directly north of the school grounds of Gibson Elementary and Delview Secondary.

A report to council notes the property has 78 trees, 77 of which are proposed to be removed. Many of the trees are in good and moderate health, however, there are also several that are in poor health, dead or hazardous.

There are also six off-site trees and three street trees. Two of those off-site trees are located on the adjacent school grounds and are proposed to be removed.

The Delta School District has provided authorization for the removal of those two trees, as well as the planting of four replacement trees on their property, while two of the street trees are proposed to be relocated at the owner’s cost.

In total, the owner would be required to plant 39 replacement trees (35 on-site and four on the adjacent school grounds) and provide $169,400 in lieu of 145 replacement trees, in accordance with Delta’s tree bylaw.

While several speakers at the hearing spoke in favour of the development, others opposed raised concerns about the loss of trees. Some suggested that the property should be retained as a forested area and serve as a small neighbourhood park, while others, concerned about losing a permeable surface, said the existing trees play a significant role in managing storm water runoff from adjacent properties.

One speaker said it was unfortunate the debate boiled down to “affordable housing versus stream keepers”.

Noting the area had always been designated for housing and never intended parkland, Coun. Dylan Kruger said he was satisfied with the tree replacement plan.

Harvie said the site, which previously had a townhouse application that would not have fit with the neighbourhood, was the type of project the provincial government could move into the municipality’s jurisdiction and approve.

Council instructed staff to monitor any drainage issues, should the development receive final approval.

As far as the loss of greenspace, another staff report notes that council has directed staff to look into the possibility of acquiring additional green space within the neigbhourhood. The parks department did not recommend further acquisition of parkland because the site and surrounding area are already served by two community parks.