Surrey may lose another heritage tree

Jim Foulkes says this tree, a King George Royal Oak planted circa 1939, need not be cut down to make way for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Jim Foulkes says this tree, a King George Royal Oak planted circa 1939, need not be cut down to make way for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Jim Foulkes says this tree, a King George Royal Oak planted circa 1939, need not be cut down to make way for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Jim Foulkes says this tree, a King George Royal Oak planted circa 1939, need not be cut down to make way for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Fencing encircles a lone tree on the construction site of the soon to be Regent Road Elementary School. Ritinder Matthew, communication services manager for Surrey Schools, said at least one tree will be incorporated into the final school design. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Fencing encircles a lone tree on the construction site of the soon to be Regent Road Elementary School. Ritinder Matthew, communication services manager for Surrey Schools, said at least one tree will be incorporated into the final school design. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
A site map shows the layout for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. The yellow box shows the location of an existing tree that will be incorporated into the final design. The Blue dot shows the location of the oak tree that is to be removed. (Via Surrey Schools)A site map shows the layout for the new Regent Road Elementary School on 74 Ave. in Clayton. The yellow box shows the location of an existing tree that will be incorporated into the final design. The Blue dot shows the location of the oak tree that is to be removed. (Via Surrey Schools)
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth are seen on the back of a rail car at Port Mann, Surrey during the 1939 royal tour of Canada. (Photo courtesy of Jim Foulkes)King George VI and Queen Elizabeth are seen on the back of a rail car at Port Mann, Surrey during the 1939 royal tour of Canada. (Photo courtesy of Jim Foulkes)

Surrey may soon lose another heritage tree and that doesn’t sit well with a local history buff.

An 80-year-old Royal Oak is set to be chopped down on 74 Ave. to make way for a school. But area resident Jim Foulkes said it doesn’t need to be cut.

“It’s near the road and it’s within the City’s easement,” he said.

Foulkes, a director for the Surrey Historical Society, said he talked to the main contractor on the site and the contractor told Foulkes the tree is scheduled to be removed, although the contractor said the site clearing project was being delayed at the moment.

“I also talked to the City and they confirmed a stop-work order was in place.”

Foulkes added that still doesn’t mean the tree won’t be removed.

The site in question is located at 18717 74 Ave.—the former George Whitehead Farm (see page 11)—along what was formerly known as Regent Road (pre-1957).

The land clearing project will make way for Regent Road Elementary School. The $26 million development will be completed in January, 2021 and will accommodate more than 650 students.

There are other big trees on the site and one is encircled with protective wood fencing.

After chatting with the contractor, Foulkes emailed the City’s planning department and received an email from Karen Fuoco.

Fuoco deals with tree bylaw issues. She wrote back, “Mr. Foulkes, your email has been sent to the parks department (who deal with city trees) to go to the site asap to see what is going on. Thank you so much for your phone call and email. There should not be anything going on at this site as the subdivision has not been approved yet.”

The Cloverdale Reporter reached out to Fuoco to ask if a permit-to-cut had been issued for the Royal Oak in question, but Fuoco said she wasn’t allowed to talk to the media. She confirmed that if it had just been a concerned citizen calling, then she would be allowed to give out the information.

Fuoco said the Reporter’s question would be sent to her manager, who would then kick it up their manager, and that manager would get back to the Reporter at a later date. The Reporter had not heard back from the City by publication time.

Foulkes has fought to save heritage trees in the past. In 2012, he fought—and won—a battle to save another Royal Oak on King George Blvd. (See links below.)

The Royal Oak at the Regent Road school site is 67 centimetres in diameter. According to City of Surrey bylaws, any tree 30 centimetres in diameter or greater, at chest level, requires a permit to be cut down.

Foulkes said Surrey’s Royal Oaks have roots that run deep into the city’s history. He said the trees were planted to commemorate King George VI’s 1937 coronation.

“The trees are historical because of their origin and they have significant heritage value because of what they meant to the city and Canada at the time,” noted Foulkes. “They were planted to commemorate the king’s visit, but the visit was also made to strengthen the ties of the Commonwealth” in the face of an impending war with Germany.

According to the City of Surrey website, the Royal Oaks were sent over as seedlings from England’s Great Windsor Park.

The trees were planted in various parts of Surrey, but most were planted along Peace Arch Highway. In 1940, the arterial road was renamed King George VI Highway to commemorate the monarch’s brief visit to Surrey in 1939. (It was only renamed King George Boulevard in 2010).

As for the Regent Road school, Ritinder Matthew, communication services manager for Surrey Schools, said at least one tree will be incorporated into the final building design (see yellow box on graphic). “We work closely with an arborist and we try to retain every tree we can,” added Matthew.

“In some cases we can’t keep (a tree) because we need to protect the structural integrity of a building.”

Matthew confirmed the Royal Oak in question—numbered 4,123—will be cut down (see blue circle on graphic).

She said it’s being removed because there will be a building a short distance away. “There will also be a paved parking lot there and a pick up drop off area.” She added roots can grow into pipes and push up pavement.”

But Foulkes said the tree need not be cut down.

“Every design is open to adaptation to local concerns,” he said. “Trees have been preserved in much more difficult situations than this one. Designs can be changed.”

He said if Surrey Schools knew about the importance of the tree, they would act differently. “I think the arborist had no inkling that was a heritage tree,” he said.

Foulkes hopes the school board changes their mind about a Royal Oak that was planted when the road was still Regent.

“I would suggest that the future students of the school would be proud to play in the shade of a very healthy oak that has stood growing since a sovereign visited Surrey.”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock and Surrey RCMP – along with police forces across the province – have launched their holiday CounterAttack campaigns. (Contributed graphic)
White Rock, Surrey RCMP CounterAttack campaigns underway

Enforcement ramps up to remove impaired drivers from cities’ roadways

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judge finds Surrey RCMP breached two robbery suspects’ Charter rights

This was in connection with the robbery of the Ritecare Pharmacy in Surrey on Oct. 10, 2017

Firefighters battle a house fire in Fleetwood on Dec. 2, 2020. (Photos: Shane MacKichan)
One man sent to hospital, two people arrested after Surrey fire

‘This was so frightening to see in person,’ witness posts after blaze at 160th Street and 89th Avenue

Martha Currie Elementary is holding a fundraising raffle. (Image via Google Maps)
Ecole Martha Currie is holding a fundraising raffle

4,000 tickets for sale in school raffle

This year’s White Rock RCMP children’s clothing drive was the best yet, organizers say. (Contributed photo)
White Rock RCMP children’s clothing drive ‘best ever’

Month-long annual event wrapped up Dec. 1

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Suspect tries to thwart police in Abbotsford with false 911 call about men with guns

Man twice sped away from officers and then tried to throw them off his trail

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Most Read