Unclear language in the contract to install trees in McBurney Plaza made it difficult to determine responsibility when all the trees started dying, Hirod Gill, Langley City manager of engineering services, told council Monday, July 14.
“It looks like there wasn’t enough clarity in the contract,” Gill said.
In his report to council, Gill said the contractor who installed the trees failed to remove support straps, damaging the trees and forcing their replacement.
“After a year, those straps were supposed to be removed, but it just didn’t happen,” Gill explained.
As part of the replacements, Gill related how a revised design for the plaza saw 11 trees reduced to nine, and a different type of surround installed at the bases.
Coun. Rosemary Wallace expressed disappointment.
“It is sad that the contractor, or whoever was responsible for the trees did not take care of them,” Wallace commented.
“It’s a shame.”
Mayor Val van den Broek wanted to know if the contractor paid for their mistake.
“Did they cover the charges?” van den Broek asked.
Gill was unable to provide a dollar amount, but noted the contractor did share the cost.
“By cost sharing, they kind of admitted they were at fault,” Gill observed.
Going forward, he said such contracts will be written to spell out “rules and responsibilities” in greater detail.
When the trees were replaced last month, Rick Bomhof, Langley City director of engineering, parks and environment told the Langley Advance Times that the strap removal “somehow fell through the cracks.”
By the time the mistake came to light, Bomhof said one tree was dead and a number of others were “severely stressed.”
Bomhof said it isn’t clear how the mistake was made after talks between the City and the contractor and designer responsible for the tree planting.
“No one’s really said, ‘we made a mistake here,’” Bomhof related.
However, the design consultant agreed to work on revamping the plaza for free and and the new trees were provided “at cost,” for about $6,000, plus the expense of pulling out the original trees and improving irrigation and drainage in the plaza, Bomhof said.