White Rock council has asked for a corporate report to look at what’s involved in trimming of blackberry bushes and other foliage on the Marine Drive ‘hump.’ (File photo)

White Rock council revisits ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to hillside trimming

Residents say blackberries, foliage impeding views and creating safety issue

The City of White Rock is looking into options for dealing with blackberry bushes and other foliage that is “taking over the view” on White Rock’s Marine Drive ‘hump.’

Following a July 8 delegation by area residents Shelley Mare and Kerry Wray, council voted unanimously to direct staff to look into what can be done to address the concern.

In asking council to return to annual trimming of the area, Mare said it isn’t just homeowners affected by what has become “a vast overgrowth of blackberry bushes, scruffy alders and maples.”

“This overgrown foliage is not only blocking homeowners’ view, it is impeding the view of tourists and passersby alike,” she said.

Safety is also an issue, Mare said, describing incidents of people climbing over the black railing to access better viewpoints for photographs.

Clearing on the bluff has historically been a sensitive topic in the city, but became contentious in 2015, after city-ordered work left the hillside essentially bare. At the time, city officials said the effort was for “maintaining slope stability, increasing line of sight and eradicating invasive species.” It had also received the pre-requisite approval from land-owner BNSF.

However, some critics speculated the clearcut was done largely to improve the view of Marine Drive residents.

READ MORE: Vegetation clearing on Marine Drive bluff ‘to promote stability’

Mare said that in the years since, ‘hump’ foliage was trimmed annually – “until last year.”

In May, following concerns raised by Couns. Helen Fathers and David Chesney, council directed staff to not proceed with the annual maintenance work this year.

At that time, Fathers said she didn’t want to see a repeat of what happened in the past; Chesney said he loved the look of the greenery and didn’t see a need for any such work in the area; and Coun. Scott Kristjanson said he’d “much rather we not touch anything there.”

READ MORE: ‘Hands off’ hump – White Rock councillors

Following the July 8 delegation, Chesney, noting he had seen Mare and Wray’s concerns firsthand, described council’s kibosh of maintenance this year as “perhaps… a bit of a knee-jerk reaction.”

“You make some good points,” he told the residents.

“I don’t know whether council is going to agree about cutting back any of the trees,” he said. “Certainly, the blackberry bushes, in particular where the lookout is, that’s something that needs to be dealt with immediately, in my mind.”

Slope stability, Chesney noted, remains a grave concern, however, he expressed optimism that a middle ground could be reached.

Following a suggestion from chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill, Coun. Christopher Trevelyan moved for a corporate report on “what the realities are, and working with the BNSF and looking at trimming the very top of the hump, so you can see the ocean, see the water from a car or from walking down Marine Drive.”

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