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LETTER: Lamenting the loss of trees along Shelbourne

We were shocked on Sept. 28 to see the devastation of planetrees along Shelbourne Street. These trees were planted on Oct. 2, 1921 to honour and remember the men and women who died in the First World War. Then Lt.-Gov. Nichol proclaimed “He who plants a tree plants a hope.”

Shelbourne Memorial Avenue is one of only seven Roads of Remembrance in Canada. And it is unique in three important ways: it is the oldest in Canada; it is the only Road of Remembrance in our country, where until now, the original trees still survive and flourish; it is the only Road of Remembrance featuring the London planetree, a variety noted for its hardiness and ability to endure damage and urban pollution.

And in addition, these trees could live for 300 years.

The source of this information is a plaque installed by the Municipality of Saanich and situated on the west side of Shelbourne near the intersection with Cedar Hill Road. Along Shelbourne Street, there are also numerous signs which read ‘Shelbourne Memorial Avenue, Lest we forget.’ It appears mayor and council have forgotten this important dedication to people who served our country in wartime.

At the first Saanich all-candidates meeting on Sept. 27, every incumbent and new candidate espoused the need to address climate change.

And yet, Saanich’s plan is to remove some 200 of the 600 planetrees planted in memory of fallen men and women in the Great War. According to the USDA, a mature tree can sequester 48 pounds of carbon a year. This is in addition to the benefits of improved oxygen, cleansing of pollutants, and cooling in extreme heat.

And Saanich is taking down these magnificent helpers that work against climate change to put in bike lanes and upgrade infrastructure? Can Saanich not work with the community to achieve its development goals while saving these trees?

Walk the talk Saanich! Stop and reconsider the ramifications of this action. Truly do your part to create a healthier more resilient Saanich.

J and M Cumming


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