Sweet gum trees like this one in City Square will be replaced over the next three years. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Sweet gum trees like this one in City Square will be replaced over the next three years. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Duncan plans big tree replacement project for downtown

Sweet gums in City Square and along Station Street will go over the next three years

Trees in downtown Duncan that are not suited to their current locations and which have also sustained irreparable damage will be replaced by the City over the next few years.

The sweet gum trees in City Square and on the north side of Station Street are too big for their current sites, and do not react well to pollution due to a shallow root system, the City explained. They also suffered large branch failures during a snowfall in late December 2020, leaving them with severe wounds.

The trees in City Square were planted in 2005 when upgrades were completed. The American sweet gum can grow to 60 or 70 feet in height and spread to 40 or 50 feet in diameter, and these particular trees were planted no more than 10 feet from the nearest buildings. Their roots are also creating potential tripping hazards in the brick paving stones and have cut off the irrigation line feeding the banner poles that water the hanging baskets in the summer.

“Along with these issues, this species of tree is prone to large branch failure due in part to their weak branch attachments and the weight of their seed pods on each limb,” the City explained. “They also shed these seed pods by the hundreds, creating not only a mess in the area surrounding them, but also the risk of a slip or fall in this area of high pedestrian traffic and vehicle parking.”

Two trees on the west side of Craig Street, in front of Impeccable Jewelry and Pharmasave will be removed in 2021, three at the north end of the planters along Ingram Street will be removed in 2022, and the remaining sweet gum trees in City Square will be removed in 2023. Three sweet gums will be removed from the north side of Station Street in 2021, and one on the south side will be removed in 2022. Their replacements will be similar to other trees in City Square and along Station Street.

“We all love our City trees and although we are sad to see a few of them go, we look forward to seeing the new trees grow in their place better suited for the growing environment,” Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples said.

cowichan valleyduncan