ARBORIST REPORT, ADDENDUM TO: WESTSTONE GROUP, BYLAW 2439 PROJECT SUMMARY INCLUDING PUBLIC HEARING JULY 24, 2023
We understand that the staff and the Council desire to put projects underway, especially in light of the fresh application for a CMHC’s Housing Accelerator Fund (HUF). WestStone would be a “shovel-ready”, large project towards that desire. Yet, it is amazing how far the City staff would go to force this project through to its approval. And it is convenient for the Council to hide behind the staff’s recommendation despite of the public’s unanimous, valid opposition. The Staff provided no review of the professional reports submitted by the developer. These reports contained glaring errors and omissions – always slanted towards allowing the developer to downplay the impact on traffic and to maximize the available footprint for the building, among other concerns. Residents submitted their concerns but those were just brushed aside, not responded to. They were forced to hire their own arborists, legal surveyors, engineers, used FOI, and are even considering a legal action to challenge a number of issues. The latest complaint (rather strong and factual) was re-submitted, under C-5, by D. Bower of Everall St.- just 5 days before the Public Hearing, regarding the Arborist Report. We have reviewed the Arborist Report as well, including its prior iterations, and offer the following comments:
A.There is no reference anywhere in this report acknowledging that the development is located within the “Environmental (Ravine Lands and Significant Trees) Development Permit Area” (OCP 23.4). That designation places additional requirements on this development, that were obviously not considered by them or the developer, such as:
1.”retention of mature, healthy trees and native vegetation and ground cover is a priority”.
Many tree locations are shown incorrectly or as “hand-plotted”. The exact location is obviously crucial for the viability of this project. Why were not the tree locations legally surveyed as yet? These errors lean towards maximizing the size of the available building envelope. That emphasis should be reversed to maximize the protection of the existing trees instead. This section requires the developer to “demonstrate every effort to preserve protected trees”.
For comparison, the parkade “notches” on the Beverley are much more substantial, allowing the trees more preservation space. The same applies to the clearance between the curb and the douglas firs at the Vidal St. 2-lane narrowing. Should similar “clearances” be applied to the WestStone property (20% smaller than Beverley), the available building envelope would be drastically reduced, and more suitable for townhouses – as originally intended.
2.“innovative site designs which are in harmony with existing healthy mature trees and other natural features” -There are no such designs employed here. It is all concrete and asphalt which increases runoff and erosion, giving no chance to water retention. Just recently, North Vancouver announced a 2-year tree replanting program with carbon-reduction bebefits to fight climate change. Vancouver does that for over 10 years. White Rock seems to go in the opposite direction. Further away, BC just replanted over billion trees. (https://www.msn.com/en-ca/video/news/tree-planting-program-launches-in-north-vancouver/vi-AA1a1ET1).
-It does not protect existing healthy, mostly coniferous trees; it does not increase or at least preserve the amount of tree canopy. It does not contribute to the sustainability of the City’s urban forest. On the contrary. There are no green infrastructure policies like bioswales, permeable pavement, rain gardens, soil cells, etc.
3.”building profiles should follow the natural topography of the site with as little change as possible to accommodate construction”.
– The ADP insisted on breaking the building into 2 or 3 smaller blocks (i.e. townhouses) to better follow the rather steep grade of the road, rather than having one long, level, monolithic block (21% longer than Beverley).
B.The WestStone project forms the upper end of this “Environmental” area. City surveyors/planners at the time, when designing the “city grid” recognized that. To protect the watercourse, mature woodlots, to deal with slope stability and erosion, they limited the development potential of Vidal by laying it out as the only “limited local” street in the entire Uptown Area. Nevertheless, over the last century, development slowly encroached on the ravine and its riparian ecosystems. The ravine now starts undisturbed again at the Sea Park West development at the lane south of Thrift. The City mapping clearly shows it again as a watercourse at Roper. Environmental concerns then were not everyday issues. We certainly know better now, and we can, and should, employ design measures to prevent problems like mudslides just downstream in 2016 near Victoria Avenue. (https://bc.ctvnews.ca/cleanup-underway-after-white-rock-mudslide-1.3782017 ).
Tree Assessment Report Review:
There is a number of trees identified in the Tree Assessment Report that appear to be questionable, as follows:
#OS-1: just 0.6m outside of property lines (at the corner of the townhouse property)/ about 1.2 m from the Building outline and 1.5m from the Parkade outline/ 25DBH/ fairly tall Douglas fir/ >>>>It is in the way of Parkade and Building construction
#03-373: Within Building Footprint/ 54DBH/ False Cypress/ Fair form and structure>> in the way of Parkade construction
#04-374: Within Parkade Footprint/ 44DBH/ Norway Maple/ Fair form and structure>> in the way of Parkade construction
#07-377: Within Parkade Footprint/ 62DBH/ Flowering Plum/ Fair form and structure>>in the way of Parkade construction
#08-378: Within Building Footprint/ 38DBH/ Mountain Ash/ Fair form and structure>>in the way of Building construction
#09-379: Within Building Footprint/ 36DBH/ Japanese Maple/ Fair form and structure>> in the way of Building construction
#11-381, #13-435, #10-380, #06-376 straddle the property line with EPS859 (i.e. D. Bower’s). The Arborist Report shows them on the outline of Parkade >>>>They are in the way of Parkade construction.
Even if they somehow remained, Level 2 (and up) WestStone balconies would be too close for comfort, as the drawing shows.
#OS11-6336 and #OS10-6411: 0.9m from the north property line on the park property/ Beautiful Western Red Cedars/ 38DBH/ Already compromised by levelling the WestStone property in about 2015. The ground on the WestStone property is now about 1.5m lower, and the roots were cut. The City’s Agricultural Technician claimed that these trees could be saved using a “natural cut-face” root cutting method. Obviously, due to the site lowering that “natural cut-face” no longer exists because the roots were already cut. These trees may not survive the deep excavation for the parkade or extreme windstorm.
There are several trees in excellent health that fall in the category of “protected trees” (i.e.DBH 20cm and greater) elsewhere within the site. They are to be removed just because they are in the way of construction.
The VTZ’s Report based the Critical Root Zone on the DBH. That is incorrect. The Bylaw says:
“Critical Root Zone means the area of land surrounding the trunk of a tree contained within a radius equal to the DBH of the tree multiplied by six (6), or one (1) metre beyond the drip line of the tree, whichever is greater.” The Browning Consulting’s report considers both, and shows that the (1) metre beyond the drip line is greater. The Bylaw does not provide for a choice in these two options. The VTZ consultants should be asked to provide a drawing showing the protected trees based on the above correct definition, and show the impact on the building struture as now designed. We know that the VTZ consultants were considering the correct method of measurement. We have seen an page with their logo on it showing the greater Critical Root Zone radius option.
In conclusion, the information provided in the developer’s Arborist Report, and therefore the calculations derived from it by the architect, are incorrect. We believe that should the architect apply the above definition, the building structure as proposed cannot be constructed. Since this is a fundamental information for the viability of this development, we also believe that any further processing of this proposal should be stopped, and the discrepancy resolved. The Council should be informed that the application does not comply with the OCP, and as such, it should be rejected, and sent back to the applicant.
The Save White Rock Team