Nightmare on Elm Street

Nightmare on Elm Street

Greenwich Parade residents Ros Ginbey, Lynette Rodwell, Frank Ginbey and Brian Rodwell want this Chinese Elm removed from their street. Photograph - Aaron Van Rongen.

Residents of Canning Vale’s Greenwich Parade feel their pleas to remove a street tree categorised as an invasive species in other Australian states are being ignored by the City of Gosnells.

Lynette and Brian Rodwell moved in to their property on Greenwich Parade in 2009 and now, 13 years later, Lynette said they wish they had never made the move.

They didn’t think much of the then-innocuous tree on their front verge, and they can’t possibly have predicted the impact it would have on their health and their property.

The tree, a Chinese Elm Tree, is classified as an invasive species by the Queensland state government.

It spreads its pollen and seeds as far as 50 metres and is self-propagating, with juvenile trees regularly sprouting in the Rodwell’s front yard.

Lynette and Brian, both in their 80s, have never suffered from hay fever, but Lynette said every time the Elm spreads its pollen and seeds – twice a year – their life becomes unbearable.

“Every time we have problems with runny eyes, runny noses, irritation…it just doesn’t stop,” she said.

“Now the roots are coming in to our property, they’ve damaged our reticulation and we’re majorly concerned about our water pipes.”

While they’ve asked the City to remove the tree, they say the response from the City of Gosnells has been dismissive at best.

A letter to the Rodwells, dated January 18, from City of Gosnells Coordinator Tree Services Robert Fairclough says the tree in its current condition does not pose a level of risk to people or property that is considered unacceptable.

“In regards to alleged damage to private property, any maintenance or repair is the responsibility of the property owner,” the letter reads.

While the City has installed a root barrier, Lynette said she has no confidence it will stop anything.

“The pollen and the seeds are still the problem, and that little barrier was an eighth of an inch thick, I don’t think that’s going to do anything.

“I wish we’d never moved here, and the City is just dismissing our concerns out of hand, they just don’t care.”

“If they just removed the tree and replaced it with something more appropriate, this would be over.”

City of Gosnells Chief Executive Ian Cowie said the City did use Chinese Elm Trees and verge trees, however there was no record of how many of the trees were planted.

“The Chinese Elm Tree is not listed as a pest species by the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development,” he said.

“The City has received one complaint about a Chinese Elm Tree in Greenwich Parade, Canning Vale, related to the tree suckering and paving being disturbed.

“The City’s qualified arborists have inspected this tree and have sought to reassure the owners of the adjacent property that the tree is too small and too far away to be causing damage to their property.

“As disruption caused by the tree’s roots is limited, there is no need to replace the tree”

He also claimed there had been no complaints regarding health issues caused by the tree.