10-year battle to give silver birch trees the chop


John and Gillian Gartly’s bureaucratic nightmare is set to end as they wait to hear if the 19 silver birch trees on their Halswell street will stay.

The 10-year process of seeking approval to cut them down may be made at a Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board meeting tonight.

But Mr Gartly isn’t hopeful the trees will be cut down as the recommendation is for the community board to decline the request to remove them.

Mr Gartly described the whole situation as a “typical city council farcical, giving people the concept they have some say, when they really don’t, because the decision is already made.”

Mr Gartly who has lived on Rempstone Drive for nearly two decades, said the trees cause two problems for the residents – they’re a nuisance and a health risk.

He said he thinks his wife’s allergies are caused by them.

He also said during the summer the trees shower seeds all around and make a mess.

“The trees are now quite mature silver birch trees, they’re about 15 to 16m tall. They’re really an unsuitable tree for a residential street,” Mr Gartly said.

Mr Gartly feels as if the problem is going around in circles.

“The issue is, the city council will only entertain the idea of taking the trees away if people can actually provide them with a registered, medical practitioner’s certificate that said whatever they have is a direct cause of the silver birch trees and that is a bar that is too difficult to reach,” Mr Gartly said.

“The medical practitioners would always diagnosis on the basis of what the patient tells them and then they’ll qualify that by saying this is in accordance with what the patient said.”

Mr Gartly said there are two separate issues to be considered. The first is whether the trees should be removed and the second is if they should be replaced and if so, by who?

“The city council would look more favourably on the residents replacing the trees. But let’s face it, they are city council trees. We can’t go out there and cut the things down and because of their height now the city council have to issue themselves a resource consent to cut the trees down,” Mr Gartly said.