Somehow, the need to remove support straps from new trees in Langley City’s McBurney plaza was forgotten, and by the time anyone remembered, it was too late to save them.
Teri James, the executive director of the Downtown Langley Business Association (DLBA) and a Langley City councillor, said because the straps which were used to support the freshly planted trees were left on too long, “they basically strangled the trees.”
By the time the problem was discovered, Jame said the trees had to come down.
“The trees were a fire hazard,” James remarked.
“That’s the honest truth. It was only a matter of time before they were all dead.”
Rick Bomhof, Langley City director of engineering, parks and environment called it an “installation issue.”
“Things somehow fell through the cracks,” Bomhof told the Langley Advance Times.
“Basically, it [the strap] choked the tree at the base.”
When the mistake came to light, Bomhof said one tree was dead and a number of others were “severely stressed.”
Bomhof said it isn’t clear how the mistake was made after talks between the City and the contractor and designer responsible for the tree planting.
“No one’s really said, ‘we made a mistake here,'” Bomhof related.
However, the design consultant agreed to work on revamping the plaza for free and and the new trees were provided “at cost,” for about $6,000, plus the expense of pulling out the original trees and improving irrigation and drainage in the plaza, Bomhof said.
James said some good has come from the replanting, which wrapped up in early June, because the City did touch base with the DLBA about a redesign before it acted.
“They were kind enough to consult with us,” James said, and as a result, the number of new trees has been slightly reduced, from a dozen to 10, to allow more room for public events in the plaza.
As for the trees that were earlier removed from the one-way that passes by McBurney, Bomhof said the city has put in for a federal grant to fund the project, but when a decision might be made on the application is hard to say.
Most of the trees were taken out because because some were creating tripping hazards by making the sidewalk heave upwards and others had been excessively trimmed to let power and telephone lines run over them, creating what Bomhof described as an “aesthetically unpleasing appearance” in a 2018 report to council.
Bomhof said the trees along Fraser Highway between 204 and 206 Streets, where the road narrows to a one-way single lane, were “not the appropriate type of species for pedestrian sidewalk areas.”