Canning Vale: fight goes on to have trees removed


Sue Winter and Jesse Jacobs with one of the spotted gums.
Sue Winter and Jesse Jacobs with one of the spotted gums.

SINCE 2011, Sue Winter has tried to have two spotted gums removed from her verge, and a further six from her Canning Vale street.

Last month she handed in a petition to the City of Canning Council, urging the eight trees’ removal citing damaged verges, burst water mains, falling branches and flooding due to excessive leaf falling.

However, if the City administration choose not to action her request, she cannot take it to council after a clause giving council the chance to review history concerns after all other avenues have been exhausted was removed.

The 25m-high spotted gums, native to New South Wales, were planted along Kingia Way and Geranium Place in Canning Vale in the 1990s as part of the subdivision development prior to the sale of the lots.

The City no longer plants Spotted Gums on verges because of the size constraints on modern developments such as greater urban density resulting in narrower verges, smaller housing blocks, a greater number of crossovers and buildings being constructed closer to front property boundaries.

Further, the trees are on a list of trees not suggested for urban gardens compiled by the Water Corporation.

The trees, which can grow up to 70m tall, were 10m high when the Winters moved in to their home in 2007.

Mrs Winter said she had signed a petition in 2011, and lodged removal requests annually between 2014 and 2016.

“I wrote to the Council in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and they have said they would not remove the trees on the grounds they are healthy and they don’t remove trees on the basis of debris,” Mrs Winter said.

“We think the trees have outgrown the area and we want to see them removed before more damage is done.”

A spokesman for the City said size alone was not a criterion for tree removal.

At the City’s August 16 council meeting, councillors voted to remove a resident’s right to review the history of a resident’s request for tree removal.

The City spokesman said residents could put in requests and appeal decisions through a complaints process.

“The recent amendments to the policy have not removed the rights of residents to request that a decision according to policy be reviewed by Council,” he said.

“Residents still have a right of appeal through the Council’s complaint management process (and) policy.”

Mrs Winter said she was disappointed to see the clause removed.

“When I lodged my 2016 request I went to the agenda meeting and one councillor asked why she had to deal with it at council, I got the impression they thought it was trivial and were there to do more important things that to listen to resident’s requests,” she said.

Mason Ward councillor Jesse Jacobs said he was disappointed to see the clause removed and wanted Mrs Winter to know she had support.

“I think it’s necessary to show council had a robust discussion and different councillors have different opinions,” he said.

“I think we need to give people the opportunity to come to council if they have a problem… they are the people that elected (us),”

“Mrs Winter was able due to the previous process to take the issue to council and ask for a decision, the new amendment takes away her right to do this and that is not fair for anyone in the future that might have a similar issue they’d their councillors to hear.

“If the people have got an issue, you need to give people the process… everyone needs a place to appeal, taking away that right takes away every grain in me to have a democratic discussion.”

Clause removed

Where a tree removal request has previously been declined under clause 7.(9) of the policy, it is open to Council to review the history of a residents request for tree removal and make a decision to remove the tree based on their assessment of factors other than those encompassed in clause 7.(9). A tree Report to Council shall occur once all other tree management and monitoring options have been exhausted.