An emotional Mt Helena resident has spoken about how upset he was to see the removal of a long-standing tree from the front of his property, criticising the Shire of Mundaring about their handling of the works.
Phil Bourgault, a former Shire councillor and environmental scientist, said he was horrified to find a very old red gum tree that sat out the front of his Graham Street home, was removed by Shire employees, who told him it was dead and a safety hazard.
“I moved to Mt Helena as a baby in 1961 and that tree was there long before then,” he said.
“It has sentimental value to me.
“My children grew up in that house and they are devastated about it.
“The tree had a huge impact on the visual amenity of the landscape.
“Removing it has been really upsetting for them and I just want to know why.”
Mr Bourgault is also hoping to change the local government’s policy around informing residents of similar works after he only learnt of the tree’s removal after the fact.
“It was a big tree and right on the border of my property, so I expected to be consulted about it,” he said.
“If there was a problem with the tree, I would have been more than happy to go and ask them to point out what the problem was so I could understand, but they never gave me the chance.
“The whole process was wrong.”
But Shire staff stated they had received complaints regarding the condition of the tree, which was monitored over a period of time before being removed for safety reasons.
“Two nearby residents had earlier notified the Shire of the decline in health of this tree and raised concerns that the tree was potentially dangerous,” chief executive Jonathan Throssell said.
“The tree was inspected and monitored for several months.
“The tree did not recover with the cooler weather and continued to rapidly decline, to the point it died and was dropping branches.
“It therefore had to be removed to stop it being a hazard.”
Mr Throssell continued to say that it was not always possible to inform residents of tree removal in their area because of time constraints.
Mr Bourgault took the matter to this week’s council meeting to address councillors on the issue during question time.
President James Martin said that trees were valued “very highly” by the councillors and Shire staff and that “we understand the community’s value of this.
“We’re not in the business of chopping down trees for no reason,” he said.
“It was a safety issue and unfortunately that overrides the emotional side of it.”
By Rebecca Peppiatt