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Coquitlam man 'bought into' the woodsy Burke Mountain lifestyle. Now, he wants to save a massive tree

Is it too late to save a tree? Shawn Cody moved to Burke Mountain because he enjoyed nature and the hiking lifestyle. He wants the city to save a tree on property planned for townhouses . He's organizing a 'discovery tree walk' for May 14.

The growing neighbourhood of Burke Mountain was once a rural neighbourhood with swaths of forest.

Now, many of the 100-year-old trees are being cut down to make way for a community of 50,000 people.

But one man is calling for the retention of at least one massive tree near his home.

"People are gluing themselves to roads to save old growth trees," comments Shawn Cody, "But we have beautiful trees here."

Cody is hosting a "discovery" walk for people interested in seeing the tree.

Details at the bottom of the story.

And indeed, a short walk through city-own land off Mitchell Street and the Burke Village Promenade near the planned Burke Mountain Village shopping centre and plaza is a grove of large Douglas Fir trees.

One is so large, Cody cannot wrap his arms around its bulky trunk.

The Douglas Fir tree, which soars into the sky is nearly 200 inches in circumference, measured with a rope, and casts a shadow over a delicate rain forest of willowy ferns and leafy salmonberry bushes.

Preserving a tree during real estate development

Cody would like it to be saved when the land in the Partington Creek neighbourhood is rezoned to permit townhouses, and would like to see a groundswell of public support for the cause.

"We now have an opportunity to preserve this," said Cody, who discovered the trees on one of his many walks since moving to Burke Mountain three years ago from New Westminster.

He says he "bought into" the woodsy lifestyle on Burke Mountain, which has scenic views of Mount Baker and Golden Ears, and forested trails alongside burbling creeks.

"Yes, I'm part of the problem," he agrees.

But while he says he isn't against development, and indeed owns a three-year-old townhouse, says the trees in the lot off Mitchell Street are more spectacular than most in the area and are worth preserving.

In fact, Cody speculates the because of their size, the trees could be between 200 and 300 years old years old, dating back earlier than logging on Burke Mountain, which took place during the first half of the 20th century, according to city information.

But the city says the trees are not that old and the future of the trees would be decided during the development application process, when it would be determined whether the trees are "safe" to be retained and compatible with the development.

Curtis Scott, the city's director of city lands and real estate, told the Tri-City News there are already plans to save a nearby wooded corridor to protect the hydrologic function of Baycrest Creek.

New parks planned or built in Burke Mountain, Coquitlam

"This headwater zone is just adjacent to the subject-site and accounts for approximately 1.65 acres of townhouse-designated land that will be dedicated and protected as an environmental feature (in a future application) and will include the protection of over 60 trees," said Curtis in an email to the Tri-City News. 

The city has also preserved a 10.8-acre forested area at Harper Park — north of the site — and plans to maintain a 40-acre forested area known Fremont Park further east of the property.

Cody says a riparian area alongside Baycrest Creek would probably have to be protected anyway, while the sloped mountainside grove off Mitchell is a "significant" group of trees that should be kept, with a covenant on the property or a land swap with a developer.

However, the city's Curtis said there are 17 trees trees along Baycrest that are similar in height and a covenant is not something the city typically does, relying instead on the development application process for determining finer details about future housing.

To Cody, however, saving the massive tree, and four of its equally hefty sisters, is something the city should consider when it sells the land to a developer once it's rezoned.

By raising the issue, he hopes others who share his concern will contact city councillors and ask that the tree be retained.

"We have to show we are going to walk the walk when it comes to the environment and if they [city officials] aren't going to do that, they're hypocrites," Cody said.

• Cody is organizing a "discovery" tree walk for anyone wanting to see the tree. It will be held at 10 a.m. (rain or shine) on Saturday May 14. Meet at the Southeast corner of Mitchell Street and Burke Village Promenade. It's an easy trail walk but participants are encouraged to wear appropriate footwear for walking in the woods.