By SHELLEY TOPP
Oak trees believed to be planted during the late 1800s have been felled amid safety concerns for cyclists using the Rangiora-Woodend cycleway.
The nine oaks were on the Oaklands property on the Rangiora-Woodend Rd next to the cycleway.
The owners of the property – members of a family trust who do not want to be named – say they were told by the Waimakariri District Council that the trees posed a danger to cyclists and would have to be properly maintained to reduce the risk.
Although the trustees did not want to remove the trees, they decided to have them felled rather than face the high cost of hiring an arborist to maintain them.
“We were in between a rock and a hard place,” one of the trustees said. “Even if we did get the trees regularly maintained at considerable ongoing cost, we still could not guarantee a branch would not fall on a cyclist.”
He understands why some people are upset about the trees being felled.
“I am as annoyed as anyone about having to chop the trees down,” he says.
“The council wanted a cycleway. This is the price you pay for progress. You can do everything possible, but if someone got hit by a branch we wouldn’t escape prosecution.
“If the cycleway had been built on the other side of the road all those trees would not have been lost,” he says.
“To us, it made more sense to put the cycleway on the other side of the road.”
He has used the cycleway and believes it is “a good idea, poorly executed and at great cost to the ratepayer and to ourselves”.
The council’s roading and transport manager, Joanne McBride, said the council received several phone calls about the oaks because of low-hanging and broken branches.
“Several broken branches hanging over the cycleway had previously been removed.
A staff member spoke to the landowner and requested that they make sure the trees were safe and did not drop branches within the road reserve.
“The council did not request that the trees be removed, as we do not have the power to order tree removal in private property. In this case, the decision to cut the trees down was made solely by the landowner.”