Farewell to trees

Resident upset with the actions taken by the city of Vernon

Timber…the traditional call of the Canadian logger? Sadly in this case, no.

This time timber will ring out as a mournful farewell to 18 of the glorious trees gracing 25th Street, bringing property values crashing to the ground along with them, all in the name of community improvement.

Alas, the debacle accompanying our city’s misguided attempts to please everyone on the issue of traffic along 25th Street continues as we doggedly plough ahead with sidewalk construction, despite the nearly fivefold increased price-tag over traffic calming.

This gets worse (cue the laugh track); rather than taking the logical, easy, and presumably less expensive route, projecting the sidewalk out into the already ample roadway and thereby leaving the trees, telephone poles, treasured property frontages, fences, walls, and the like intact, they’ve elected to set it 15 feet back from the road, felling a grand total of 18 trees necessitating the transplanting of a further eight, the removal and relocation of countless telephone poles, and the destruction of many property owners’ cherished front yards.

According to Jeff Speck in Walkable City (a wonderfully insightful look at what makes great cities great, and a must read for anyone interested in helping Vernon to realize its potential), street trees add a median $11,380 to average property values, which in turn contributes greatly to a city’s tax revenues.

Why on earth would the city choose to fell trees that could be spared?

As regular readers already know, the sidewalks initiative was born out of a request from residents for traffic calming, seemingly as a means to appease residents in the wake of the city’s reluctance to take action on this file.

Contrary to Garry Haas’ assertion in a letter to the editor, traffic volume on 25th Street is greater now than it’s ever been.

The sidewalks could present a golden opportunity, killing two birds with one stone by providing both a safe separate walking corridor and a modicum of traffic calming if only they were placed into the existing roadway.

Abundant evidence (http://massengale.typepad.com/venustas/files/SwiftSafetyStudy.pdf) demonstrates how reducing road width enhances safety.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but an analysis of accident statistics irrefutably demonstrates that wider, straighter, sight-line enhanced streets are actually significantly more dangerous than narrower, sight-line restricted ones.

Regardless of posted speed limits, drivers tend to drive at whatever speed they’re comfortable with; the perceived hazard of narrow streets goes a long way towards curbing speed and enhancing safety for walkers, cyclists, and motorists alike.

It seems negligent for the city to plough ahead as they are, removing trees, maintaining road width and tearing up yards when presented with a golden opportunity to enhance safety and preserve property values for all.


Tom Carlson