Jim Cuthbert is frustrated.
Cuthbert owns a home on Drinkwater Road close to where BC Housing’s 52-unit supportive housing project is to be built at 2983 Drinkwater Rd.
In preparation for the construction of the project, workers took down a number of large trees, with many being Douglas fir and red cedar, earlier this week.
But Cuthbert said they took down about 14 of them, many more than was originally planned.
“They’ve annihilated all of them, except for a small grove at the front of the property,” he said.
“These were enormous trees and they were extremely sound and healthy. What most concerns me is that the prevailing winds on my land, which also has a lot of large trees, comes from the west and the trees on BC Housing’s property used to provide a wind break for them. Now I have to contend with the possibility that my trees can be blown down, and that can have severe consequences in regards to health and safety.”
Cuthbert said he met with BC Housing’s planners two months ago and was told that many of the trees would be left standing for aesthetic purposes.
But a number of those he was told would be left standing were cut down.
Rob Conway, North Cowichan’s planning and building director, checked the plan for the development that was submitted to the municipality and talked to the project manager about the tree issue.
He said just five trees that were taken down were supposed to be retained, and four of them would have eventually had to be taken down anyway as there is a road planned for where they stood, but he acknowledged one was taken down outside of any planning.
“In our opinion, this is not a significant breach [of the original plan],” Conway said.
“The project manager agreed to have the site’s arborist work with the architect on a proposal to plant some trees as an amendment to the plan. We appreciate that the home owner is not happy that these trees came down, but North Cowichan has no tree-protection bylaw.”
Conway said the trees on Cuthbert’s property grew up outside of a forest and likely matured and developed to handle more wind than their forest-bound relatives.
“I don’t know if the wind will be a real hazard there,” he said.