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Langford residents look to have arbutus spared from axe

Petition to save the Dunford/Jacklin tree has garnered over 1,500 signatures
Kristen Awram hopes her petition will convince developers to preserve this large arbutus tree on the corner of Jacklin and Dunford roads. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)

Langford residents have rallied behind a petition to save an old arbutus tree, which could come down as part of a proposed development.

The arbutus tree sits at the corner of Dunford and Jacklin, currently on the property of 904 Dunford Ave., which is one of the multiple properties on Dunford Avenue (evens from 904 to 914) that would make way for two residential towers, with 352 units between them. A public hearing was held on April 4 and council subsequently passed second and third readings, meaning the rezoning just awaits final adoption. Langford resident Kristen Awram spoke at the hearing, expressing concerns about cutting down the tree, and the day afterward shared a petition in the hope of drumming up support for preserving the tree.

“I felt this is somewhat outside of this zoning application: this is about the future of the city. It’s not just one tree. It’s an urban canopy and I think the more of these mature trees that we lose, the more we’re contributing to climate change, the more we are contributing to habitat loss.”

As of April 20, the petition had 1,526 signatures. Tree protection is a common theme during public hearings among residents expressing concerns about development in Langford, and some councillors have shared those concerns.

“That’s an iconic beautiful tree,” said Coun. Lillian Szpak in an interview, who voted against the Dunford Avenue bylaw approval. “It shouldn’t be just up to a developer to say whether or not he could try and save it. I think the city should come forward and say these kinds of trees need to be saved.”

Szpak said she hoped to revisit the tree protection bylaw at some point in the future. She had proposed a tree protection bylaw during a city council meeting in January, but the idea was shot down by fellow councillors. During the meeting, Mayor Stew Young said the city already has a tree management plan which protects the majority of trees in Langford, which are on public lands.

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