Duncan tree advocates request arborist’s report

Defenders of the old maple tree on James Street want to see the arborist's report on the tree before the community gathering on its fate

Defenders of the old maple tree on James Street want to see the arborist’s report on the tree before the community gathering on its fate that will be held on July 11.

The tree, estimated to be up to 200 years old, was scheduled to be cut down last week as part of the plans by the Island Savings Centre to upgrade its parking lot.

An independent arborist completed a report on the health of the tree, which is hollow in its centre, in which it’s concluded that the tree should be removed because it poses a threat to public safety.

However, many in the community have rallied to save the tree and prevented work crews from cutting it down.

As a result, the Cowichan Valley Regional District decided to postpone plans to take the tree down until a “community conversation” is held on the issue on July 11.

The CVRD leases the centre’s property from the Municipality of North Cowichan.

Many of the tree’s defenders want to see the arborist’s report on the tree in preparation for Monday’s community gathering at the Island Savings Centre, but have been denied.

“We feel public disclosure has been side-stepped and feel it’s only fair and just to have access to the CVRD’s tree report so we are able to better prepare and educate ourselves before the community gathering,” Lindy Kennedy said.

But Jon Lefebure, chairman of the CVRD, said the district isn’t legally permitted to distribute the report.

He said there is a clause in the contract with the arborist that the report not be publicized.

“I’m only speculating here, but I assume arborists fear they may lose business if they recommend a tree be cut down when many people don’t want it to,” Lefebure said.