Some residents are upset at Qualicum Beach officials after clearing part of a trail running along Hoylake Road began before a public walkthrough.
Cutting back of trees began after the initial walkthrough was postponed due to snowfall. Some residents say that was a mistake and could have potentially damaging effects on the heron population that nests there, due to the nests being more exposed.
Council had unanimously passed a motion saying they would do a walkthrough in early 2020 before cutting back any vegetation.
Coun. Robert Filmer said the public deserves an answer on why it was done this way.
“That was the direction from council — that nothing would be removed until the walkthrough was done with the public,” said Filmer. “At the end of the day, we have to take the flak from the public.”
Dennis Trudeau, chief operating officer for the town, said a snowstorm postponed the initial tour. They thought there was going to be time after the snow melted to reschedule the walkthrough, but the company responsible for cutting the vegetation started doing so before the town was able to organize a new tour.
He called what happened “unfortunate.”
“There was a tour that did happen on Jan. 28, it was very well-attended, but you’re correct — it was not before everything was cut down,” said Trudeau.
In terms of solutions, Coun. Adam Walker said they need to first collect information on what’s been removed before they go and plant new trees.
“The biggest impact was when the trees were first cut,” said Coun. Scott Harrison, who said it would be best to wait a few months before assessing the damage.
Filmer suggested the town’s environmental committee try and take a lead on finding a solution.
“Every committee has a project on the go except this one,” he said. “I know they want to get active.”
Mayor Brian Wiese said: “It’s important that we cleared enough of the path to get the work done, and then we’ll go back and we will replant the trees and make it look nice. It was unfortunate that the trail walk didn’t happen before [the clearing]. Whether it would have changed anything, I’m not sure.”
Wiese also said time constraints regarding their grant application was part of what happened — the project needs to be completed by March 2020.