Victoria Park: Council now says landmark tree on Mint Street may be saved

The giant Banyan tree at the corner of Shepperton Road and Mint Street.
The giant Banyan tree at the corner of Shepperton Road and Mint Street.

THE Town of Victoria Park has denied a decision has been made to chop down the landmark tree at the corner of Mint Street and Shepperton Road, saying it will try to retain the giant Chinese Banyan.

Several people used this week’s annual electors’ meeting to voice concerns for the tree and the council’s handling of the matter with the couple most affected, Peter and Colette Smith.

The Smiths live in the corner house heavily shaded by the council-owned verge tree and, despite being the people to raise an issue about the tree’s invasive root structure, are campaigning to save it.

Victoria Park Mayor Trevor Vaughan said tree removal was always a last resort.

“We want to work with you to see if we can save that tree,” he told Mr Smith at the meeting.

“The Town knows it is very important to preserve large trees like this wherever possible.

“In some circumstances, where unsuitable species are growing in awkward places, the cost and risk associated with property damage and the safety of residents and the public must also be considered.”

An arborist report commissioned by the council recommended against installing a root barrier or severing roots because of the risk of creating structural instability.

Mr Smith said he had asked only that the council contribute to the cost of maintenance required every couple of years when hairroots enter their underground plumbing and was horrified that the council’s insurer was suggesting such significant remedies or destruction.

He remained adamant that he would not sign the legal document sent to him by the insurer, saying it would render their property unbuyable.

Colette and Peter Smith in front of the giant verge tree they now want saved from the axe. Picture: Matt Jelonek

“Ligis are hell bent on recommending to you guys the destruction of this tree,” he said.

“I am disappointed with the Town of Vic Park giving me this threatening deed of settlement which nobody in their right mind would sign..

“It puts my wife and I over a barrel with nowhere to go.”