This large beech tree (in foreground) on Park Place was given “significant tree” status by the City of Duncan. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

An old copper beech tree in Duncan gets “significant tree” status

City now has 23 trees with special status

An old copper beech tree located at 740 Park Place in Duncan has been given “significant tree” status by the city.

Council endorsed the nomination of the approximately 15-metre high tree, which is more than 100 years old, at its meeting on Dec. 18.

The tree was brought from England as a sapling and planted in its current location more than 100 years ago, around the time the house was constructed in 1905.

A staff report indicates that the tree is said to be in excellent condition and of a relatively uncommon variety of beech (Fagus sylvatica purpurea).

Duncan’s tree protection bylaw defines a significant tree as “a tree of significant size, species or heritage.”

Trees with “significant tree” status can only be cut or removed with the permission of council and, as of Dec. 18, the bylaw also requires city approval to prune significant trees.

Mayor Phil Kent said preserving significant trees in the city is part of council’s ongoing urban forest strategy.

“We don’t have a lot of really unique ones like the one on Park Place, which also has a history to it,” Kent said.

“It’s the first one in quite awhile that has come before council for consideration as a significant tree.”

The city now has 23 trees designated as significant trees, including one beech tree near the intersection of Canada Avenue and Beverly Street.

But that beech tree is a more common variety, and is a smaller size and younger age than the one on Park Place.

Copper beech is a species native to Europe, but has been introduced as an ornamental tree to Canada.

They can grow to 40 metres tall and typically live between 150 and 300 years.

The colour of the leaves, which range from green to reddish-orange to dark purple, sets this beech subspecies apart from other beech trees.

In its report to council, staff recognized the tree at Park Place as having historical and natural significance due to its age, size, and being home to a variety of bird species.

The cutting down of an old maple tree on James Street in August, 2016, as the Island Savings Centre began work on upgrading its parking lot raised the ire of many in the community.

The tree, estimated to be more than 100 years old, did not have significant tree status.

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robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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