A Langford neighbourhood group mourns the loss of 200 trees along the future E&N Rail trail.
City workers cut down the trees along a stretch of old railway track – between Savory School and Atkins Avenue – for the E&N Rail Trail expansion.
The expansion is a multi-million-dollar Capital Regional District (CRD) project to create a new cyclist and pedestrian route between the West Shore and Victoria.
The Atkins Alliance Neighbourhood group fought to stop the tree removal for months, citing the biodiversity and age of some of the growth, which included Garry oaks, broad leaf maples and Douglas firs.
But last week, member Beth Cruise saw men with chain saws cutting the trees down. And just like that, 200 trees were gone.
“I am very surprised, especially after they just came out with the climate change emergency (declaration),” Cruise said. “And trees are so important – not only are they sequestering carbon, they’re doing things like cooling the area, and supporting… wildlife.”
Cruise said the area is home to rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and various species of birds.
In fact, one woman took to recording the different avian species she saw there, and her list includes everything from hummingbirds, robins and woodpeckers to sparrows, flickers and bald eagles.
In a letter to the CRD, the neighbourhood group said it was “astonished” that the CRD was “knowingly and deliberately building a large scale paved path right through a sensitive riparian ecosystem, harming the natural area and the flora and fauna dependent upon it…”
Cruise said there is nothing more to be done now that the trees have come down.
“It’s too bad, because it’s not as if we’re against bike trails. I’m a biker, I like biking… but to pit it against the environment, it doesn’t make sense,” she said.