Steveston residents are worried a line of trees beside a public walkway near London Landing will obscure the widest view in the region which includes the North Shore Mountains, Howe Sound and Mount Baker.
A long row of aspens were planted last winter around the property line of 12910 No. 2 Rd., a 27-acre farm near the corner of No. 2 and London roads.
Joel Berman and Marcia Dash, who live in a condo building next to the walkway, say the trees will grow to block out the view of the mountains for residents in the area and those who use the popular walkway.
“This is something for everyone forever,” Dash said of the view.
About 120 aspens were planted last winter on the south perimeter of the property, and Berman and Dash worry they will eventually grow so tall and bushy as to obscure any scenic view along the walk.
They have started a petition “Save Richmond Views,” gathering names to ask the City of Richmond to save the view corridor.
“It affects a lot of people because this is a public walkway,” Dash said, pointing out the recently installed picnic tables. “It’s just so unfair to so many people.”
Berman acknowledges the property owner has the right to plant trees on his property but he added, given the residents, cyclists and pedestrians who enjoy the view, he doesn’t understand what gives the owner the right to take away the view that the community enjoys.
In fact, the property is in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and its regulations state planting trees “to provide an economic return,” producing botanical forest products and engaging in silviculture and forest protection activities can’t be prohibited.
Furthermore, there is no bylaw in Richmond that regulates view corridors.
Richmond Coun. Harold Steves said after investigating the complaints about the possible loss of a view corridor, there is nothing the city nor the Agricultural Land Commission can do to stop someone from planting trees in the ALR.
But, he added, it’s not very “neighbourly” to block the view for the community.
“We want tree planting – but no one expected huge hedges,” he said.
It would be more acceptable if a property owner were planting an orchard or something productive, he added.
Berman pointed out the city only has a bylaw about removing trees, nothing on planting them.
The city passed the Public Tree Management Strategy 2045 last year with the goal of increasing the tree canopy by 20 to 30 per cent by 2045.
Steves pointed out that high hedges aren’t just a problem in the ALR. Many property owners in urban areas as well are planting hedges they expect to be three to four feet high, but they end up growing as high as 30 feet.
Many of these hedges also encroach on sidewalks.
“I have a problem when (trees are) not very neighbourly,” he said.
He’s hoping this will be addressed by council in the future when they look at fencing bylaws.
The property has a 9,920-square-foot, nine-bedroom house that is still partly under construction
The farm’s registered owner is No. 2 Road Farm Ltd., whose address is the Panatch Group. Kush Panatch declined to comment for this story.