Sybil Rowe in her Grandview neighbourhood. (Now-Leader file photo)

Surrey urged to dedicate ‘magnificent’ grove of mature trees

‘This is truly special. I want it named. I want it kept,’ says Surrey’s Sybil Rowe

SOUTH SURREY — A dedicated and passionate tree advocate in South Surrey is urging city hall to preserve a “beautiful and magnificent” grove of about 50 mature trees in Grandview Heights.

“It would mean the earth to me to save it,” said Sybil Rowe, noting the grove includes about 40 large cedars and 10 douglas firs near 168th Street and 25th Avenue. “I’d be devastated (if they came down) because I love these fellas. I don’t have children so basically this is my little legacy. When I leave this planet one day, I’m going to be 82 in the fall, I would like to think there will be some of these magnificent trees standing for grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

Rowe estimated the cedars were over 130 years old, but the city couldn’t confirm their age. While it looked like there may have been a threat to the trees, they appear to be safe – for now.

A new 1,500-capacity Grandview Heights secondary school is planned in the area. Initially, the plan was to have the school built close to the intersection at 168th Street and 26th Avenue and these trees were part of the land to be developed.

“Originally, the plan was to have the school up closer to the intersection at 168th Street but that has since changed, so that grove, isn’t part of the school property anymore,” said Ted Uhrich with Surrey’s parks department.

The grove, on city-owned land, is going to be left untouched for now.

“The cedars and douglas firs in there are definitely mature,” said Uhrich, adding “they are also important because they represent mature forest in Grandview Heights so that’s important to acknowledge.”

He noted that while the city still plants cedars, they’re “tough to establish” because they “like to have wet feet.”

“We plant them in projects where we have a focus on native species,” he said. “But they are challenging.”

At some point, the city plans to consult with the community to see what to do with the property, he added. Recent changes in the area include the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre nearby. But Uhrich said when that consultation will happen is “to be determined.”

Rowe wants to see the trees dedicated. She worries about the future of cedars in Surrey – particularly new ones that are planted – as they struggle to survive amidst climate change.

“This little cedar grove is my heart’s desire,” she said.

“This little cedar grove is my heart’s desire,” she said. “I don’t care if they name the darn thing after the mayor and call it Linda’s Park, as long as they keep it.”