After a lengthy debate last week, Delta council has agreed with a request by Ladner homeowners to remove a stand of trees on municipal property fronting their homes.
Staff recommended the removal of the two Horse Chestnuts and three Sycamore Maples in the 4600-block of 54A Street.
In a letter to council this summer, two of the homeowners complained the existing trees have been pushing up and damaging the existing sidewalk and their driveways, saying it was not disclosed to them when they purchased their new homes that the frontage of their houses would be drastically altered.
The three new homes were created through a three-lot subdivision and rezoning approved by council in 2016.
The trees, which were to be retained as part of the redevelopment, are in close proximity to the existing sidewalk and the tree root system has impacted the sidewalk, causing uneven pavement and pedestrian safety concerns.
A report to council notes a sidewalk realignment was part of the development to retain the trees.
The initial subdivision plan submitted by the developer requested removal of the five street trees in order to allow for a straight sidewalk configuration.
During the construction of the homes in 2020, the developer brought the trees’ health condition to the attention of city staff and proposed that the sidewalk installation be put on hold until further review. However, staff at the time, decided the trees should remain as they are considered in fair condition.
A subsequent review by an external arborist also found the trees to be in fair condition, but a third-party arborist, while also finding them in fair condition, noted they had deteriorated since the development.
The homeowners continued to convey concerns including their driveway lengths being reduced, potential for falling branches and the planned offset sidewalk not conforming to the rest of the street’s sidewalk alignment.
After evaluating several options, staff recommended the removal of the trees and a straight sidewalk alignment.
The developer is to pay for their removal and the homeowners agreed to provide cash for a tree replacement plan.
During council’s discussion at their Oct. 25th meeting, Coun. Jeannie Kanakos said many residents want the trees retained.
She also suggested the city look at changes a few years down the road if one or two of the trees need to be replaced.
Coun. Dylan Kruger also suggested council consider the option of retaining the trees as well as the sidewalk configuration.
Community planning director Marcy Sangret said that option would be “a Band-Aid solution at best” and the tree removal was the most viable option.
Mayor George Harvie said the trees, in a few years, would have to come down anyway due to their condition.
Council last month agreed with a recommendation to have staff report back with amendments to the Delta Tree Protection Bylaw and as well as report with a more fulsome discussion and detailed recommendations for “significant trees.”