It’s not over til it’s over.
That’s the sentiment of tree-lovers opposing the removal of 29 trees at 1201 Fort Street, a site that once housed the Victoria Truth Centre and is now on the way to becoming Bellewood Park – a project by Abstract Developments that includes a six-storey and a four-storey building and nine town homes fronting onto Prentrelew Place.
Community members gathered on Fort Street Sunday evening for a “goodbye and thank you” to the trees.
But Nancy Lane Macgregor, Rockland resident and member of the Community Trees Matter Network, said the event is about much more than mourning the long-standing oaks and cedars.
Macgregor said she wants the city to reevaluate “the outdated” Tree Preservation Bylaw which was last updated in 2005 and only protects non-native trees when their trunks are at least 80 centimetres in diameter or are growing within 15 metres from a watercourse.
In contrast, the City of Vancouver requires permits to remove non-native trees with 20-centimetre-diameter trunks.
Macgregor also hopes to see council implement an Urban Trees Master Plan to guide future decisions around tree removal and planting.
“There’s a huge awareness now of some of the needs in terms of climate change, in terms of how we’re building in the city,” Macgregor said. “We’re losing trees in the public sphere as well as in the private.”
According to the network, at risk are two giant Sequoias, a Garry Oak, a Scots Pine, three Douglas Fir, an Incense Cedar, a Deodar Cedar, a Copper Beech, an English Oak, two Birches, a small Arbutus, a small Dogwood and other small trees around a house on the property, including a lilac bush and flowering crab apple.
The event was put on shortly after the network heard that blasting would begin soon in preparation for development.
“We imagine [that] would mean trees could come down soon. But that does not mean they’re down yet.”
— Nina Grossman (@NinaGrossman) January 21, 2019
With candles and lights lit, the group sang songs and shared stories of the trees.
“This [event] is in honour of the trees at 1201 Fort Street that have served this place for over 150 years, with their beauty, grandeur, and grace, making a peaceful place that we once walked through,” Macgregor said in a statement. “They cleaned the air and waters, sequestered carbon, and brought well-being to animals, plants, birds and people.”
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