Tree comes down outside Island Savings Centre

The sound of chainsaws filled the air in the early morning hours in Duncan on Monday as the old maple tree on James Street was cut down.

The sound of chainsaws filled the air in the early morning hours in Duncan on Monday, Aug. 22, as the old maple tree on James Street was finally cut down.

Emmy Bayes said she was the only person at the tree who was standing guard at approximately 6:30 a.m. when workers arrived to begin work taking the tree down.

She said she was returning with a coffee when security guards prevented her from getting close to the tree, claiming it was unsafe and had to go.

I was all alone and couldn’t get to the tree to protect it,” Bayes said with tears in her eyes.

I can’t understand how I was trespassing on public property in my own neighbourhood.”

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

It was scheduled to be 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 wanted it saved, and gathered more input into alternatives to cutting it down.

But, after a couple of meetings with the public, the commission decided on July 26 to move forward with plans to take it down.

However, when the tree was scheduled to be cut down on Aug. 5, about a dozen people linked arms around it and refused to be moved.

The commission was considering legal action to force people away from the tree to it could be cut down safely.

John Elzinga, manager of the Island Savings Centre, said the commission made the final decision to take the tree down on July 26 and, since then, it has been an “operational decision” by staff as to when it would occur.

Public safety was our main priority in the decision to cut the tree down on Monday,” he said.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure, a member of the commission, said the commission hasn’t met since July 26, so no decision was made as to the possibility of legal action, and staff were left to decide as to when the tree should be cut down.

He said he has been told that there wasn’t much to salvage from the tree, other than some of the larger branches and pieces of the trunk.

The commission will decide in a public meeting what will happen to those parts of the tree,” Lefebure said.

Seairra Courtemanche, one of the leaders of the group that was fighting to save the tree, said the commission members weren’t listening to the public and “couldn’t get past” their set agenda and the costs associated with the tree and parking lot upgrade.

They did have a conversation with us, but it was under their own agenda,” she said.

They never had any respect for this tree. We need decision makers that have respect for the land.”

Courtemanche said she will continue to campaign for a heritage law for the region that will protect sacred sites.

Joyce Behnsen, a councillor from the Municipality of North Cowichan and a staunch defender of the tree, said she was “devastated” to learn that it had been taken down.

We had another petition going around to save the tree,” she said.

This is a nightmare and it’s wrong.”














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

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery sharing wealth of online art

The CVPAG page will feature new artists and galleries every two weeks

Mary Lowther column: The beauty of Lady Godivas from the garden

So THAT’S where my Lady Godiva pumpkins went!

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Duncan’s Overdose Prevention Site to move this fall to new Wellness Centre

OPS will be part of new Wellness and Recovery Centre on York Road

Cowichan Music Festival stars denied chance at provincials due to COVID-19 cancellation

“We were grateful that we were able to hold the Cowichan Music Festival”

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Saanich mayor receives his foster bees through pollinator rental program

‘I feel like I’m an adoptive father,’ Fred Haynes says of his rented mason bee colony

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read