Virginia Errick, under a canopy of Gary Oak trees, looks at her neighbour’s property from her back yard. She’s concerned that, should the development at 515 Foul Bay Rd. be permitted, significant forest and old-growth Gary Oaks will be destroyed. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Virginia Errick, under a canopy of Gary Oak trees, looks at her neighbour’s property from her back yard. She’s concerned that, should the development at 515 Foul Bay Rd. be permitted, significant forest and old-growth Gary Oaks will be destroyed. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Development a risk to Garry oak woodlands: neighbour

Foul Bay Road development heads to public hearing

Virgina Errick stands under a canopy of a Garry oak trees, and wonders whether the next generation will be able to enjoy this urban forest in the Gonzales neighbourhood.

A development permit with variances at 515 Foul Bay Rd., which borders Abkhazi Gardens, will come before council for public hearing this Thursday (Nov. 23). The Alpha Developments project would separate the panhandle lot into a bare land strata subdivision with four parcels, building three two-storey homes next to the existing early 1900s mansion, which was previously converted into five rental units.

While the neighbours aren’t particularly happy about the contemporary “box” design of the homes, losing 11 Garry oak trees is their greatest concern.

“These trees aren’t coming back,” Errick said, who lives on an adjacent property.

Garry oaks are very slow-growing, and these neighbourhood trees could be hundreds of years old, she said. Errick enjoys the woodlands on her property because it makes it feel like being in the country. Cutting the trees down would destroy the canopy and damage the ecosystem, she added.

“It’s not good for our environment, and it’s not good for the animals that live here. We have eagles and hawks and owls and deer. We need that space for animals to live here, as well as people.”

The developers propose removing 19 trees, including 11 Garry oaks and one arbutus. To account for the loss of greenery, the developer proposes replacing the 12 mature, bylaw-protected trees with 24 young trees.

In addition to those at 515 Foul Bay Rd., up to 14 trees on neighbouring properties (four bylaw-protected) could also be damaged or destroyed through the construction process.

“It’s one thing to affect trees on your property, it’s quite another thing to be impacting trees on neighbours’ properties,” said Karen Ayres, who lives on a bordering lot.

She is also concerned about the environment, the beauty, and the impact on the community. Ayres said the proposal violates the old Gonzales neighbourhood plan, as well as the new one currently being drafted.

While the developers say intended buyers would be families, Ayres doesn’t believe young families would be able to afford the homes, which could go from anywhere between $1 million to $6 million.

Another of the adjacent properties at Chadwick Place was recently developed in a similar manner, but according to Errick and Ayres, the residents are couples from out of province, not families.

“If you want to develop all of this, and housing is the number one priority at the expense of the trees, the canopy, the green space and the environment, then let’s…decide what is the best use of these large tracts of land. It’s really about the trade-off, that you’re destroying all of that to house [a few] people,” Ayres said.

“Our cityscape, and our neighbourhoods, are going to look totally different without our trees.”

Both women said they are not opposed to development, even suggesting they would be fine if smaller houses were built on the lot, if more trees were protected.

But Fred Rohani of Alpha Developments said the plan protects many existing trees.

“This type of precedent where we’re saving an urban forest part of this property, where we’re saving numerous trees, and we’re planting numerous new trees, will add beauty to this property,” he said. “If you come in 10 years to this property when the new trees are all matured, this will look like an urban forest.”

The proposal includes a covenant for tree protection to retain the trees in the area behind the large mansion and other parts of the property, a way Rohani said would achieve growth in these areas.

“Unfortunately, the neighbours, they don’t want to see growth, they just want to maintain status quo,” he said.

Even so, Errick and Ayers said they will be disappointed if the development goes through, and they’re concerned it would set an undesirable precedent for further development in the area.

“It’s not like I want to control the future, but we have to leave something for younger people, to say, this is Garry oak woodland. This is what it’s like. It’s not just in the park, it’s not just in Oak Bay, it’s in Victoria too,” Errick said.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

garry oakGonzalesTrees

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Fred Rohani, of Alpha Developments, said much of the native vegetation on the 515 Foul Bay Rd. property will be preserved as “urban forest.” (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Fred Rohani, of Alpha Developments, said much of the native vegetation on the 515 Foul Bay Rd. property will be preserved as “urban forest.” (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Just Posted

Sooke Lake Reservoir, shown here, is the primary storage site for Greater Victoria’s drinking water supply. The Capital Regional District just purchased a property on the north edge of the water supply area to help further protect the supply. (Photo courtesy CRD)
CRD acquires 58.7-hectare watershed to further protect Greater Victoria drinking water supply

Forested area near Grant Lake is part of the Cowichan Valley Regional District

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show goes virtual for second year in a row

Art exhibition and show set for July 23 to Aug. 2

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner’s report confirms cause of death of three men at Sooke River in 2020

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen drown while ‘puddle-jumping’ in pickup truck

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read