Street trees, roundabout bother resident

Jones is no fan of the new traffic circle that’s part of the construction

They’re dirty.

They’re cheap.

And Harry Jones wants them off his street.

The resident of 227th Street says the 30 or so London plane trees that line the road from Holyrood Avenue almost to the Haney Bypass, are bringing down the neighbourhood with their sloppy habits of shedding leaves in mid-summer, dropping seed pods that aggravate allergies, and tearing up the roads and sidewalks with their roots.

“A lot of people describe them as dirty trees,” Jones said.

While he’s been putting up with them for the 10 years he’s lived in the area, the current extension of 227th Street up to Lougheed Highway has refocused his attention on the trees and the new curbs and sidewalks that could be threatened by the roots.

Jones says within five years, those sidewalks will be heaved, thanks to the shallow-growing tree roots.

The trees are about 15 years old and their leaves resemble maple leaves, but they’re cheaper to install, he says.

“They’re a fake maple, that’s why they use them,” he says. No one will rake them because of dust the seeds emit, so a contractor has to be hired. “We can’t get anyone to rake the leaves around here anymore.”

He asks, why do the single-family homes across the street get nice maple trees, when those homeowners pay only about $5,000 yearly in property taxes – while his condo complex, which pays much more in taxes, gets what he says are the cheaper trees?

“They’re dirty, weak trees.”

The trees don’t present any particular problem, according to Bruce McLeod, Maple Ridge’s manager of parks and open space.

They’re planted on wide roads where space allows. People like having a canopy of leaves above, he said. Traffic slows down as well, because of the perception of reduced space. And all trees in this area are shallow rooted, he said, while London plane trees don’t damage sidewalks any more than any other tree.

But the fine hair particles and the pollen from seed capsules can irritate some people, he acknowledged.

So far, the district has only received two complaints.

McLeod pointed out that London planes are tough trees that grow well in urban conditions of poor soils and high air pollution, and don’t cause problems for the district. It’s why they’re used extensively in the industrial cities in eastern North America and are the most common tree in London and Paris.

Jones is no fan of the new traffic circle that’s part of the construction, either. It’s jammed into a narrow section of road and would be better suited at the larger, busier intersection at 227th Street and 116th Avenue, he said.

The new circle at Holyrood is so small, he added, people might just drive over it. “Absolutely no gain to us. I would say it’s a terrible inconvenience.”

Nevertheless, he can live with the traffic circle, though he points out, the construction on the street has resulted in the loss of five parking spaces.

District spokesman Fred Armstrong said there are no plans to remove the trees.

“And I’m not aware that we’ve received a ton of complaints about them either.”