Saturday, 19 September 2020
Call for consultation on Boonah’s ‘condemned’ trees

A petition to save four mature trees from being destroyed during Stage 2 of the Boonah Town Centre redevelopment will be tabled at Monday’s Scenic Rim Regional Council meeting.

More than 1,800 signatures have been collected - around 1,300 on a face-to-face basis by volunteers and almost 600 from a online petition.

“That’s just the number to date,” said, Debby Burgess, one of the group of community members leading the call to save the Evergreen Ash trees which form part of the ‘green streetscape’ in Boonah’s High Street.

“Our local Councillor, Marshall Chalk, has agreed to present the petition and we’re asking that the petition also be discussed at that meeting given the advanced stage of the redevelopment project.”

Fellow petitioner, Chris Bowman reported that in a meeting with Mayor Greg Christensen, Cr Chalk and Council officers last week, Cr Christensen had offered a ‘stay of execution’ for the trees until after the petition was presented.

“We asked then and we are asking again that the Council hold a broad community consultation on the future of the trees.”

During the meeting between the group and the Council, she said they were made aware of the reasons behind the removal of the trees.

“In the days after that meeting, when our volunteers were collecting signatures they were able to show people the Council’s plans and to address any questions,” Chris said.

“But surely this information should have been made available to the community when the decision to remove the trees was made.

“And that’s why we’re asking for the community to be consulted now.

“By far the greater majority of the community, and the visitors to the town, want the trees to remain.”

She added that after the group met with the Council, they remained firm in their belief there were solutions to the problems caused by the current placement of the trees.

“But first Council must have the will to find those solutions.

“As for the invasive species issue those trees have been there for almost 30 years and there is no evidence of their seeds invading local bushland and waterways.

“And the species does not appear on any prohibited or restricted plant list.”

The petition will be presented to Cr Chalk on Friday afternoon.

“We know that the Mayor has said that the four trees will be replaced by four new trees but the plans show that one tree will be replaced in one location and the remaining three trees will be planted close together in a small garden bed,” Debby said. 

“Even when these trees eventually grow on enough to provide shade, it won’t be the same as we enjoy now.

“And a close look at the plans show that our town centre will have the same look as so many other towns in Australia and will no longer look like the Boonah that everyone loves.

Future of Boonah trees under review

Scenic Rim Regional Council is currently reviewing  the future of the four Evergreen Ash trees in Boonah’s High Street.

“I called for this review,” said Cr Marshall Chalk on Monday. “I asked for a review into the planned works in High Street and on what other options there are for the trees.

“I have received a lot of emails about the trees - about 20 to 30 from people who want them to remain and eight or nine from people who want them to go.

“While personally I hold an opposite view to those who have signed the petition, I believe as a Councillor, I need to represent everyone’s view.

“That’s why I called for the review.”

Cr Chalk will table the ‘Save our Trees’ petition at the Council meeting on Monday.

“I am also currently considering whether I will move a motion about the trees at the same time,” he said.

“I realise that the majority of the people are against the removal of the trees but I’m not sure they have given it much thought.

“I think that it’s as much tied up with an anti-Council sentiment and a misconception of why the trees need to go, as it is about wanting to save the trees.

“If the trees stay then one of the pedestrian crossings won’t meet the current safety standards, nor will there be room to provide a disabled carpark and access ramp to the current standard.”

A failure to communicate Council’s plans for the street was part of the reason for the controversy, he believes.

“Much of this anger is a reflection on the communication style of Council. The plans were poorly communicated,” Cr Chalk said.

But he added that he also had a poor opinion of invasive species.

“People don’t realise how much money and time Council spends every year on ridding creek banks, road reserves and other areas of invasive species.”