Residents want trees removed

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A Joseph St residents’ petition calling for the removal of silver birch trees in the street has prompted the Gore District Council to call a meeting to discuss their concerns.

Joseph St has about 15 silver birch trees planted along the berms.

In a letter to the council, resident Clarence Stevenson said those who had signed the petition wished to express their concern that the silver birch trees were causing health problems.

The petition also contained copies of newspaper reports that said silver birch trees were no longer being planted in Christchurch or Timaru because of health issues.

The trees had “also caused drainage problems over the past years”, Mr Stevenson said in the letter.

Mr Stevenson’s wife, Marj, said in the petition the couple both suffered from lung problems and after reading the information about Christchurch, they felt their breathing problems were very similar to those associated with the silver birch trees.

“Being home all the time now, we have noticed an increase in our coughing,” Mrs Stevenson said.

Another resident, Nancy McCarthy, said in the petition she was sick of having to deal with the “mess” debris from the trees made on her windows and stairs. It also blocked drains and created a mess in her garage.

Not wanted… Some Joseph St residents want these silver birch trees lining the street removed, some residents citing health reasons. PHOTO: MARGARET PHILLIPS

Council parks and reserves manager Ian Soper said at Tuesday’s council meeting there were 183 silver birch trees on the council’s street tree register.

The council had stopped planting silver birch trees over the past 12 years, Mr Soper said.

Cr Doug Grant suggested discussing the matter with residents.

Cr Neville Phillips asked whether there were any infrastructure issues relating to the trees.

Mr Soper said there had been “a couple” of issues in the past 10 years, which council had dealt with.

The berm contour of upper Joseph St accentuated the issue, as the drains were buried closer to the surface of the ground than on flat land, Mr Soper said.

Cr Ralph Beale described the street as being a like a “botanical jungle” and agreed it would be good to talk to the residents about the issue.

It was decided the first step would be to meet residents to find a solution. If that did not produce a satisfactory outcome, the matter could proceed to a hearing.