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Ornamental trees on Petersen Road declared a ‘public nuisance’

A property owner on Petersen Road has been ordered to cut down three trees to make the road safer for a neighbour.

Council unanimously approved the order on Thursday night, but wasn’t happy about it. Mayor Kermit Dahl wondered if the city got dragged into a private dispute.

“My problem is, I’ve driven the road a thousand times, I drove it twice today… I couldn’t understand what the issue was at that time,” he said. “Now I have a difficult time with the difference of eight metres, going around a corner that you have to slow down to go around, if the issue is the trees, the vehicles, the speed, or a dispute between two neighbours. And I’m not here to solve issues of a dispute between two neighbours.”

Three years ago the owners of property on the west side of the S-curve at Croation Road planted ornamental trees beside their shop, approximately 13 feet from the road. This spring the neighbour to the immediate south complained the trees were blocking the view of southbound traffic, making it dangerous to exit their driveway.

The city bylaw department and transportation specialist investigated and agreed the trees were creating a safety hazard, and the city could be liable. The owner was ordered to remove the trees by mid-July, but they did not comply.

Property owner Diane Bieber spoke to council on Thursday and said it’s the city’s fault for realigning the road in 1999 to create the S-curve.

“This should have indicated a deficiency in the planning and design of the realignment, leading to a solution based on correcting it. Instead, a solution using sight lines crossing over private property was offered,” she said. “The City of Campbell River should have never built it as is. They should have known that it would cause these issues that we have today.”

She said she and her husband have spoken to the provincial Ombudsman’s office about their potential options moving forward.

The two-storey shop was added to the property sometime after the 1999 road alignment, and before the Biebers bought it 10 years ago.

Councilor Sean Smyth said he understood the Bieber’s frustration, but agreed the trees do make it difficult and dangerous to exit the southern property, especially since the once-rural, country road has become a busy north-south corridor for cross-town traffic.

Council voted unanimously in favour of using the Public Nuisance Bylaw to order the Biebers to cut down the trees within 30 days. If they aren’t removed, city workers will have the authority to cut them down after the deadline.

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