Residents in Davis Bay are outraged after trees lining the front of The West condo development were cut down last week.
Coast Reporter learned this week that the B.C. Ministry of Trans-portation ordered the removal of the trees due to "safety concerns."
Ministry of Transportation area development and operations technician Terry Christie said the trees were actually on the Ministry of Transportation's right of way.
"They are going to install a storm sewer and underground hydro and a sidewalk at the site," said Christie. "All the underground work would compromise the root systems of the trees. We looked at the dangerous tree situation and said they could possibly blow down and hit the condos and not stop until they hit the bottom floor, possibly hurting or killing someone. So we said they had to go. That was our decision."
Developer Chris Moore declined to comment when contacted by Coast Reporter on Tuesday saying only a "full press release" would be issued next week.
Christie said he wasn't surprised Moore wasn't willing to talk this week.
"The proponent was in yesterday and he's really shook up. He's received a number of complaints over this," Christie said.
District of Sechelt Mayor Cam Reid said he is saddened to see the trees gone.
Reid said he has heard a great deal of outcry from the public over the removal.
"We were very surprised to see the trees come down, as the developer and the community wanted to leave the trees," Reid said. "We thought it was important to support their retention in the plan. We are very saddened by the fact highways removed the trees due to their requirements."
Christie noted the trees would have had to be removed within a few years regardless of the underground work.
"If they hadn't come down now they would have when we upgrade the highway in the next few years," Christie said, noting the portion of highway in front of The West will be widened to include a turning lane in the future.
He says he's well aware of the anger in the community surrounding the issue, but adds, "If we left them up and they fell and hurt someone, who would be screaming bloody murder then? We have to look at public safety first."