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Delta throwback: Grace brings plenty of trees

Trees remains a touchy subject in Delta
grace mccarthey visits delta 1971
Grace McCarthy visited Delta in 1971 to help start a beatification project.

Let’s head back to a March 24, 1971 edition of the Optimist when an article ran featuring a tree planting ceremony in Ladner with special guest Grace McCarthy.

The article read, 'What better way to beautify the bare scenery along a freeway than plant a few trees?'

At the time, Ken Wenman, son of Delta MLA Bob Wenman, had gone to Victoria and negotiated for the planting of 2,100 trees from the provincial government.

It included 1,000 cedars, 1,000 Douglas firs and 100 spruce trees.

McCarthy, a minister without a portfolio and MLA for Vancouver-Little Mountain, was on hand to help Ken and a group of Young Socreds get started on a beatification project, located by the 499 freeway (now called Highway 99) near the Highway 10 overpass.

About half the trees would be planted in Delta and the rest in White Rock.

Fast forward to 2022 and the City of Delta, despite updating its tree protection bylaw and a having new urban forest strategy, is facing uproars in neighbourhoods across the community about the loss of trees, especially clear-cutting of residential lots up for redevelopment.

Delta city staff are currently reviewing what other measures can be implemented to strengthen tree protection.

Staff will report back with options for heightened protection of “significant trees” and whether additional measures could be used to address tree removal in connection with building applications, particularly proposed accessory buildings and structures.

It was prompted by several development applications involving the removal of a significant number of trees from properties, all abiding by the current zoning bylaw.

Changes to Delta’s tree bylaw were approved last December, requiring additional tree replacements for large-diameter trees.

However, council was informed that a big problem when it comes to tree bylaws is that they can’t interfere with municipal zoning, which permits property owners to build their new homes to a specific size.

Staff are also reviewing how other municipalities are dealing with the issue.