Construction of a storm sewer and a sidewalk on the district’s only heritage street, Shady Lane, has riled neighbours who don’t like the changes and fear they are threatening their peaceful part of old Maple Ridge.
Residents fear that the long-term effects of a sidewalk, built above tree roots, could lead to the eventual demise of towering old cedars and maples that make up Shady Lane on 124th Street, between Laity and 216th streets.
Meanwhile, increasing traffic heading towards the Golden Ears Bridge is already making life difficult for local residents. The new sidewalk, made of asphalt, looks too much like an extension of the road, making it seem wider than it is, they say.
They’re also worried about the compaction of the soil on the root system, and are wondering why good soil is hauled away to be replaced by gravel, and say that tree roots wider than 2.5 inches in diameter have been cut, which could permanently damage the root.
And how will all that work affect other trees in nearby yards?
Jennifer Caros, a resident, points out that while the district’s arborist is supervising the work, she’s not there all the time.
“When the arborist is on site, is not necessarily when certain things are exposed.”
In September, residents even asked for the work to be stopped until “alternative environmentally sensitive material and appearance and traffic calming options can be considered and decided in a public manner.”
But they were told that a tree permit isn’t needed for work around the trees, while residents are still awaiting for appointment of an independent arborist.
“It’s a unique street. It’s the only heritage street in Maple Ridge. The trees have been protected since the 1980s,” said Gabrielle Fandry, who lives in the 21400-block of Shady Lane.
Fandry says residents have had ongoing discussions with district hall and said she’s talked to Mayor Ernie Daykin about her concerns. Two neighbours recently addressed a council meeting.
“No matter what we say, it just goes on,” she added.
“I’m concerned about the future health.” Who is liable if trees are damaged or die and for how long will they be monitored? she asked.
Residents also say cars are speeding down the narrow street as motorists now avoid the traffic light at 216th Street and 128th Avenue.
District spokesman Fred Armstrong said the district’s arborist supervising the work is confident the trees won’t be affected and pointed out roads and sidewalks cover the driplines of trees throughout the municipality.
The sidewalk will provide the only pedestrian access through the area, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail.
“It should dramatically improve pedestrian safety.”
Only one tree at the corner of Laity Street and 123rd Avenue has been removed for the project.