Marki Sellers wants to know if there were any alternatives to taking down three large trees in McAdam Park.
Sellers said the City of Duncan had decided to cut down the old maple trees due to safety concerns for the children attending a preschool that is situated on the same piece of property, which is being leased from the city.
“I understand the need to keep people safe, but given the number of large trees I have recently seen cut down in the Cowichan Valley, and the very real environmental concerns brought by climate change, I feel moved to speak in favour of more protection for our trees,” said Sellers, who has a child attending the preschool.
“I’m not sure if the city is making the best decision in taking them down. I believe we must protect our community’s large trees for the future. I am strongly in favour of tree bylaws that protect old and distinct trees; not just for their environmental value, but for their meaning in our community.”
Len Thew, Duncan’s public works operations manager, said the city’s parks forewoman is also an arborist, and she regularly inspects many of the large trees on public property within city limits.
He said the forewoman had some concerns with the health of the three maple trees on the property with the preschool, especially considering the fact that there are children playing under them almost every day.
“We brought in a second independent arborist to get a second opinion, and the arborist also reported the trees had multiple issues, including a lot of visible decay, and should be removed,” Thew said.
“We always explore several options other than completely removing trees, but these three trees were in such a condition that we decided that the best solution was to take them down.”
Thew said the city’s policy is to replace any trees taken down, and fresh saplings have been planted in the preschool yard.
He said neither of the trees had heritage status with the city, but they were in such poor health and condition, they would still have had to be taken down for safety reasons regardless.
Typically, trees with “significant tree” status, defined as having “significant size, species or heritage”, in the city can only be cut or removed with the permission of council.
The city currently has 23 trees designated as significant.