Editorial: Comparing tree to war dead is disrespectful

It’s more than a little disrespectful of the dead and the living veterans to compare them to a tree.

“Lest we forget.”

This phrase, accompanied by a hand-drawn image of a poppy, was scrawled on a piece of cardboard hung on the fence beside the Island Savings Centre parking lot, where a tree had been cut down two days earlier.

Now, lest we forget that this phrase, and the familiar symbol of the poppy, are intended to remind us of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice in war.

It’s more than a little disrespectful of the dead and the living veterans to compare them to a tree.

That’s one tree, by the way. A single, rotten tree that had been burned out inside and was often stuffed with garbage, urinated in, and used as a hideout and dumping ground for drug users.

The tree was not healthy. An arborist’s report told us this before the tree was condemned to be cut down, and it was confirmed when the tree was removed. One of our reporters on the scene saw the tree crumble as it was picked up by an excavator. The roots beneath the tree were mere powder.

Yes, the tree was removed to make way for renovations to the Island Savings Centre parking lot, but it was doomed either way.

Is it not better to remove the tree safely than to wait — as some had suggested — until it fell over on its own?

With the tree’s support system all but destroyed by rot, it could have fallen over at any time… maybe onto bare parking lot, but just as likely onto a car, or onto a passerby.

Imagine the reaction if a tree that had been determined to be well past its prime had fallen on an elderly patron of the library, or onto a child on her way to an activity at the community centre.

The tree was not ancient. It was estimated to be at most 200 years old, and that does not fall under the definition of “ancient.”

It has also been called “sacred,” and “cuturally important.” A query to Cowichan Tribes will confirm that it is not part of their history, so to whom is this particular tree sacred?

This is not a clearcut. It is the removal of one sick and potentially dangerous tree that will be replaced by 34 new ones. Thirty-four.

This is not the destruction of nature. It is one tree that sat on a small patch of green in a community literally surrounded by some of the most magnificent natural scenery in the world. If driving past the Island Savings Centre amounts to exposure to nature, then you really need to get out more.

This is all without discussing the tax dollars wasted as workers waited for two months to continue paving the parking lot.

In its healthy prime, the tree was magnificent, but in its final state, it was not worth attempting to save, and certainly not worth threatening constructionworkers and ISC staff.

Let’s not forget that.