CBRA to Saanich: reconsider removal of Finnerty Rd. trees

To: Mayor Haynes and Saanich Council                                February 18, 2019

Re: Saving Protected and Endangered Garry Oak Trees on Finnerty Road

The Cadboro Bay Residents Association is writing to request that Mayor and Council instruct Saanich’s Engineering Department to find a way to save the six Garry Oak trees that are slated for removal on Finnerty Road.

We understand that the problem the Engineering Department faces is that under the current upgrade plan (Please refer to the Finnerty Display Board here), the roots of the Garry Oaks in question would be too close to the curb that is to be constructed. Some of our residents have been informed that if seven feet (2.1 metres) of road right of way could be found, then the trees would not have to be cut down.

The six Finnerty Garry Oaks that we are talking about are on a stretch of road between Edgelow and MacKenzie that is approximately 120 metres in length.Here are two possible changes to the plan which we think could save the trees if both changes were implemented together:

1)   Have the sidewalk on the north (Garry Oak) side of Finnerty run BEHIND the Garry Oaks. There is, after all, a path that pedestrians and cyclists have already created, by virtue of regular use over the years. Undoubtedly, ways could be found to upgrade this path to a higher engineering standard, without the resulting multi-use pathway interfering with the tree roots;

2)   On the south ( Haro Woods ) side of Finnerty, instead of providing for both a sidewalk AND protected two-way cycle track all the way from MacKenzie to Edgelow, extend the proposed protected multi-use pathway planned for the stretch of road between Arbutus and Edgelow westward by perhaps 150 metres.

These are just two ideas for saving the Garry Oaks. Undoubtedly there are others. We merely ask that some creative planning and engineering be employed in an effort to save these trees. We know that the Engineering Branch has explored options to save the trees, and we commend them for this effort, even if it has been unsuccessful to date. What we are suggesting is that the time is ripe to take a fresh look at solving this problem, with some outside expertise, including a Garry Oak conservation specialist, being brought in to assist in the effort.

We know how Mayor and Council care about trees including the Tree Protection Bylaw, the Urban Forest Strategy and the preservation of the District’s urban tree canopy in general. We see preserving these Finnerty Garry Oaks as an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to conserving these protected and endangered trees, to show the public that you value them, and that you want to save them from the chainsaws.  In the final analysis, we think we can all agree it would be a terrible shame if these trees were chopped down for the sake of a mere 120 metres of curb, especially since we believe that viable options do indeed exist to conserve them.

In closing, we thank you for your attention. We and our residents are available should you have any questions, and should you wish to participate in any on-site visits. A polite reminder that time is of the essence here, as these trees are slated for removal at any moment.

Yours Truly

Eric Dahli, Chair

Cadboro Bay Residents Association

CC Gordon Head Residents Association

     University of Victoria

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