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Dead tree had to be removed

Dear Editor: Re: Mature evergreen massacred, Letters to the editor, The Record, July 5.

Dear Editor:

Re: Mature evergreen massacred, Letters to the editor, The Record, July 5.

I am writing in response to the letter on the removal of trees due to the construction of the new elementary school on the site of the former Saint Mary's Hospital.

The school district and the City of New Westminster have been working with the Ministry of Education to develop a plan for the replacement of New Westminster Secondary School, construction of a new west side middle school and the replacement of John Robson Elementary school in order to provide modern educational facilities for over 3,000 students as well as family support and recreation facilities for the entire community. Following significant public consultation over a two-year period, the use of the Saint Mary's site for the elementary school was identified as the best solution.

The site is relatively small with significant elevation change from the Royal Avenue side down to the Agnes Street side of the property. It is also partially owned by the city for use as a community park.

It is regretted that the monkey tree at the corner of Merivale and Agnes died last year. Our initial plan was to retain the tree as a focal point for the new school. The arbourist report concluded that the tree was dead and needed to be removed.

The large fir tree near the corner of Royal and Merivale was adjacent to the new school. During excavation for the foundation for the new school, the contractor encountered major root structures which had to be removed. As a result the large tree was considered unsafe by the project team and had to be removed. Relocating a tree of this size was not a viable option.

Numerous new trees will be planted around the site.

The new École Qayqayt Elementary School is scheduled to open for classes in September 2014.

We anticipate that both the new trees and the 500 students that attend the school will flourish.

Fortunately, the proud tradition of service to the citizens of New Westminster by the Saint Mary's Hospital will continue through the new school and community park.

Jim Alkins, capital project director, School District No. 40, New Westminster