‘We’re no tree killers’ 

CLARKSON ROAD residents have been unfairly labelled tree killers thanks to an ambiguous council sign, says Maylands resident Stephen Vining.

The Swan River Trust started putting up the large signs when new housing developments along the river saw selfish landowners cut down trees to improve their views. “Vegetation in this area has been vandalised,” they boldly state, the aim being to give the poisoners and chainsawers a view more annoying than a bit of greenery.

• J’Accuse! Maylands residents say this sign is unfairly painting them as tree killers. Photo by Steve Grant

Fuming 

But the signs were usually only put up under a principle of “cui bono” when one house was a clear beneficiary of the tree being gone, so it was glaringly apparent to passersby who had done the deed.

Mr Vining and several of his neighbours on Clarkson Road are fuming that Bayswater council’s put up an ambiguously-placed sign that points fingers indiscriminately.

In a letter undersigned by four other neighbours he implored the council to remove the sign, saying many of the trees were dead long before he purchased the property so they shouldn’t be unfairly tarnished.

He says the neighbourhood has identified one dead tree which they “agree appears to be a random act of vandalism” but “all neighbours abhor vandalism of any kind and have welcomed the council’s action of planting more trees”.

They put the request to council to have the sign removed saying it was an ugly blight on amenity and damaged property prices in the area.

Bayswater mayor Barry McKenna says, “while we sympathise with Mr Vining, the purpose of the sign is to highlight such acts of vandalism.”

“The City of Bayswater takes the poisoning of trees very seriously.

“We have a strict policy on deliberate tree poisoning, it is a deplorable act of eco-vandalism that the city will not tolerate.”

Beautifying

He says with trees bringing many benefits like cooling and beautifying the city they have to take a tough stance.

“Our approach has been to call for increased community vigilance on the issue…unless we catch a person in the act of vandalising a tree, a sign is the only recourse that we have in terms of drawing attention to the deliberate destruction of trees that are valued by our community.”

In January’s council meeting, Cr Stephanie Coates put forward a motion to review the tree vandalism policy “to minimise the potential to adversely affect innocent parties in the vicinity to any suspected vandalised trees”.

A report from council staff “acknowledged that sign installation may impact on neighbouring properties’ amenity, even so the sign acts as a deterrent for future tree vandalism and encourages residents to contact the city should they observe any suspicious behaviour”.

Councillors were split, 5/5, with mayor McKenna’s casting vote keeping the strict policy as-is.

Under the policy the sign will stay for two years, or until someone stumps up the cash to replace the dead trees with twice as many.

by DAVID BELL

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