Oak Bay removes ancient boulevard Garry oak for safety reasons

Heron Street tree survived the street’s first paving job, thanks to protesting women

A massive Garry oak tree on Heron Street in Oak Bay is in the midst of its last days above ground, after living for what some estimate at 200 years or more on the site. It was diagnosed by Oak Bay parks experts as being badly infected with a fungus that has severely weakened the tree’s root system and left it in danger of toppling.

The tree, situated in front of 2382 Heron St. off Estevan Avenue, has been a central part of the neighbourhood since anyone can remember, says Ivan Watson, an Oak Bay resident who grew up a couple of houses away.

“I remember as a kid being fascinated by it, this massive, gnarled Garry oak tree that just dominates the streetscape,” he said Thursday (July 16), after shooting some photos of the tree and a video of the initial limb removal.

ALSO READ: Oak Bay kindergarten students explore connection between trees and kindness

Watson has fond memories of playing street hockey under the protective branches of the tree, and felt that such a grand example of this endangered plant species deserved to be recognized before it was taken down.

“This is a tree that’s older than anyone alive today. Everyone I talked to is a little sad about it,” he said. That includes his parents, who still live on the street.

He noticed some neighbours taking pieces of the tree after crews finished for the day. “Even some of the branches that came down are massive pieces of wood that something could be made from.”

ALSO READ: New Oak Bay bylaw supports planting 5,000 new trees

Part of the oak’s long history involved a protest 70 or 80 years ago when the street was first being paved. “The women of the neighbourhood banded together and linked arms in front of the tree, staring down the bulldozer. As a result, the paved road went around the tree,” said Watson.

Work by a municipal crew is expected to continue Friday on the tree removal. In a letter to nearby residents, municipal arborist Chris Paul wrote that the parks department plans to plant at least one Garry oak to replace the old tree and several other trees along the boulevard on that block of Heron Street.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

oak bay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke minor hockey set to get kids on ice by mid-September

President says re-opening dependent on SEAPARC installing ice in time

Gathering marks 10 years since nearly 500 asylum-seekers landed off Victoria shore

The 492 people fleeing violence, war crimes and genocide in Sri Lanka were detained for months

VicPD responding to robbery suspect barricaded in building on Cook Street

Residents are asked to avoid the 2300-block of Cook Street

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

Edward Milne students clean up Whiffen Spit

Volunteers find styrofoam, cigarette butts and a single shoe

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Filmmaker James Cameron’s Comox Valley winery up for sale

The director behind The Terminator and Titanic puts Beaufort Winery on the market after six years

B.C. announces multi-year plan to double treatment beds for youth with addiction

This will bring the total number of new beds specific to those 12 to 24 years old to 247 province-wide

Most Read