Protesters prevent disputed Duncan maple from being cut down

The old maple tree on James Street in Duncan received another last-minute reprieve on Friday, Aug. 5, but its future is still unclear.

The old maple tree on James Street in Duncan received another last-minute reprieve on Friday, Aug. 5, but its future is still unclear.

The controversial tree was scheduled to be taken down at 10 a.m., but with the workers of the tree-cutting company ready to break out the chainsaws, about a dozen people linked arms around it and refused to be moved.

Seairra Courtemanche, one of the leaders of the group, said they are asking for a “stay of execution” of the tree until a public meeting can be held in which both sides of the debate can be properly heard.

She said the meeting should be followed by a vote by the general public on the tree’s future.

“We tried to be heard, but there was no democratic process in the decision to take down this tree,” she said while still linking arms with her colleagues around the tree.

“We want to have a voice in the decision-making process. We are doing this on behalf of the community.”

The tree, estimated to be between 150 and 200 years old, is located next to the Island Saving Centre’s parking lot on James Street.

It was scheduled to taken down in June as part of the centre’s plan to upgrade the parking lot, but people opposed to its demise have been fighting to save it.

The Island Savings Centre Commission decided to postpone the decision to fell the tree until they had a dialogue with those that want it saved and gathered more input into alternatives to cutting it down.

But, after a couple of meetings and receiving a number of reports on costs and tree health, the commission decided on July 26 to move forward with plans to take it down.

John Elzinga, manager of the Island Savings Centre, told the group at the tree that the commission has made its final decision on the issue and there will be no further consultations.

“We are considering legal action at this time,” he said.

Commission member Jon Lefebure said the tree likely won’t be coming down in the next few days.

He said the commission will have to meet to make a decision on whether legal action will be taken, and, because it’s a legal matter, the Cowichan Valley Regional District will have to concur in one of its meetings as well.

The CVRD leases the property from the Municipality of North Cowichan.

As for the request for a public meeting on the tree, Lefebure said a full public process has already been held on the issue.

“Then the commission, made up of duly elected officials, made a decision,” he said.

“That’s how democracy works. I think we had a positive process that made progress, but some chose not to respect that process.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE PHOTO
Editorial: Time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in

They’re just not quite sure they want to get a vaccine — yet

Brian Thatcher, owner of Cowichan Bay’s Pacific Industrial & Marine, is disappointed the province didn’t provide funding for a proposal from PIM, in partnership with the Cowichan Tribes, to remove derelict boats from local waters. (File photo)
Application for funding to remove derelict vessels in Cowichan area fails

Province announced $4.5 million for new program on April 28

Cowichan Valley Capitals forward Sean Ramsay comes away with the puck after a battle along the boards during a game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on May 1, 2021. (Elena Rardon/Black Press Media)
Three wins in a row for Cowichan Capitals

BCHL team enjoying best stretch of the season

Friends have set up a GoFundMe account for the family of Dorothy Littau, who was diagnosed with colon cancer last month. (Submitted)
GoFundMe campaign set up ‘ever-present force in South Cowichan schools’

Dorothy Littau was diagnosed with colon cancer in April

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 test results to get to Canada

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same

The Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre on Wilkinson Road in Saanich. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found unresponsive at Saanich jail

Man was in Victoria police custody the day before being found

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(File)
With revenge porn on the rise in 2021, B.C. seeks feedback for new legislation

New legislation could help victims take down images and receive compensation

Port Alberni RCMP are investigating a homicide on Third Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
RCMP investigating homicide in Port Alberni apartment

Investigators are still trying to determine the identity of the deceased

(Kamloops This Week file photo)
Federal police unit takes over probe of B.C. regional district’s spending

Financial Integrity Sensitive Investigations Unit is now reviewing the case

A black bear made a visit to downtown Vancouver Tuesday, May 4. The animal was spotted on train tracks in Gastown shortly after at 2:30 p.m. (Twitter/Craig Minielly)
VIDEO: Black bear spotted meandering around downtown Vancouver

The bear was reportedly tranquilized by conservation officers Tuesday afternoon

Vivian Hermansen, Snuneymuxw First Nation, initiator of petition e-3281. Photo by Karen Evans.
Status card wait times an example of systemic racism, says Campbell River woman

Snuneymuxw woman launches petition as people waiting up to two years, as passports take three weeks

Most Read