Clearcut development in the 5900 block of 145 avenue.

Clearcut development in the 5900 block of 145 avenue.

City probing tree clearcut

Surrey says developer cut beyond his property, through a city park and riparian area, and onto private properties

Giant logs litter a development site in Newton where an approved tree cut went well beyond city permits and into protected areas and other private lands.

A housing development at 5904 144 Street approved by council last June required the removal of 39 significant trees. The city issued permits for the cut, and on Aug. 12, those trees were removed.

However, according to City of Surrey General Manager of Planning and Development Jean Lamontagne, the cutting went much further. The tree felling proceeded through a riparian area designated as city park and continued onto private properties. The developer also cut into the setback of a tributary of Hyland Creek, which is a fish-bearing stream, Lamontagne said.

Neighbours quickly called the City of Surrey, which slapped a stop work order on the development, but not before the damage had been done.

Several investigations have been launched to discover what went wrong.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is conducting a separate probe.

Starla Dejong lives next door to the clearcut and was told to leave her suite because the tree cutter felt a large maple tree was going to fall on the house.

The size and scope of the clearcut infuriated the neighbours, she said.

“We were mad,” Dejong said, adding her eight-year-old son told the cutter, “You’ve ruined our future.”

She echoes her son’s sentiment, adding her “feeling of security is gone.”

Rebecca Leung lives right next door to the development and said she was saddened to see the scope of the tree felling, which far exceeded the original 39 trees.

“They weren’t supposed to cut that much,” she said.

Leader calls to the developer’s agent weren’t returned by the print edition’s press time Wednesday.

Mayor Dianne Watts said she has no interest in continuing business with the person responsible for the cut.

“There are going to be some significant fines, a significant mitigation package, and a stop-work order,” Watts said Tuesday. “Myself and council, we’re in absolute agreement on not letting him move forward.”

She’s tired of seeing people play fast and loose with Surrey’s bylaws.

“It’s beyond me how this can happen when you have a responsible person undertaking work,” Watts said. “That says to me this person is not responsible, this person is not abiding by the rules and regulations, and I have no interest in them doing work in this city again.”