Skip to content

Residents say clear cutting 56 mature trees in this Port Moody neighbourhood flies in the face of the city’s climate emergency

A new townhouse project on Seaview Drive in Port Moody will mean the removal of 56 mature trees. Neighbours say more should be done to save them.
1223-PoMoClearCutWorries 1w
Residents of the Mountain View co-op in Port Moody tie ribbons around several mature trees that are slated to be removed to make way for development of a new townhouse project nearby.

Residents of a Port Moody co-op are concerned about the planned removal of 56 mature trees on neighbouring properties to accommodate construction of a new 28-unit townhouse project.

Judith Atkinson says she’s collected more than 100 names on a petition from people who live in the Mountain View Co-op, located on Clarke Road, just south of the project that’s to be built by Burnaby-based Allaire Properties at 44-60 Seaview Dr.

They’re calling on the developer, as well as the city, to find a way to save the trees that tower up to 80 feet.

“There’s more people that are concerned,” Atkinson said. “It’s ill-informed to cut these trees. They offer such shade and quiet and beauty.”

Atkinson said in the 40 years she’s lived at the co-op, she’s seen the trees grow into a thriving habitat for hummingbirds, flickers and squirrels, as well as provide residents some protection from the sounds of the nearby SkyTrain Millennium Line. 

But, she added, the potential loss of the trees is especially disturbing given Port Moody’s recent declaration of a climate emergency and the role the urban forest can play in helping mitigate greenhouse gases. 

“Nobody should be clearcutting any trees anywhere in the urban forest.”

Recently, Atkinson organized a small group to tie ribbons around the trees that she said are a mix of maples and cedars up to 100 or 150 years old.

“When you try to put your arms around them, they’re huge,” she said.

A staff report considered by council last March did note “the project provides limited open space and no tree retention,” although it had previously recommended “tree retention should be considered a high priority for this development.”

In a presentation to council on Nov. 24, 2020, Port Moody city planner André Boel said keeping the trees would be “challenging in this case,” given the need for the developer to construct parking as part of the project.

An arborist’s report Allaire submitted with its application for amendments to the city’s official community plan and zoning bylaws said many of the mature trees are unhealthy or growing at an angle. According to plans designed by landscape architects Prospect & Refuge, 27 replacement trees would be planted around the site, including Lion’s Mane maple and Shore pine.

Coun. Amy Lubik, who advocated for Port Moody’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019, said the loss of mature trees is “troubling to say the least.”

She said with the effects of climate change — like the increasing severity of heat waves and storms — becoming more and more apparent, “it is the responsibility of cities to investigate and understand the impacts of the climate emergency on our populations and create plans, bylaws and policies to follow the best science.”

Lubik, who voted to approve the townhouse project along with all her fellow councillors, added tress are an important part of that science.

“We should always be trying to protect and preserve ecosystems first,” she said.

While Port Moody’s current tree bylaw outlines various means of compensating for trees that need to be cut down, including the planting of additional trees, Lubik said it does little to protect trees on private property nor does it define significant trees. She said efforts to update the bylaw have been moving slowly, although she’s hopeful progress can be made by early next year.

“I know people can be nervous about tree protection bylaws,” Lubik said.

“But what it means is protecting certain species and those that reach a certain diameter, not trees that are unhealthy or interfering with the foundation or the like.”