Duncan maple tree demolition issue not about safety or money

In light of the controversy surrounding the maple tree at the Island Savings Centre, I feel called to distill the facts.

In light of the controversy surrounding the maple tree at the Island Savings Centre, I feel called, as an arboricultural professional, to distill the facts. Despite widespread claims that the tree is a safety and financial liability, there is no credible evidence to support this.

The initial arborist report, which allegedly condemned the tree, was never released due to a non-disclosure clause and given the unwillingness of the arborist to defend their findings should, at this point, be deemed irrelevant.

What is very relevant is the second report (available publicly under July 26 ISCC agenda at www.cvrd.bc.ca/1775/Island-Savings-Centre) prepared by renowned lecturer and consulting arborist Dr. Julian Dunster which rates the tree as a low-moderate risk — a rating common among urban trees. Dr. Dunster’s report also clearly states: “The overall tree health is quite good, notwithstanding the extensive decay in the heartwood area. There is abundant evidence of response growth, the new sprouts are growing well, and the overall form of the tree is typical of a bigleaf maple that has been previously crown reduced.”

No costing of tree maintenance was provided in Dr. Dunster’s report.

Compared to other bigleaf maples on UBC’s Big Tree Registry, our James Street Maple, at 197 cm in diameter, would rank as the largest caliper bigleaf maple on South Vancouver Island. Given the droves of tourists flocking to horticultural attractions in nearby Victoria, would it not be sensible to consider retaining such an exceptional specimen?

It’s time to look past politics and emotions and look at the data. Arguments for removing the tree are weak and unsupported.

This issue is not about safety or money; it’s about the competence of our elected officials in managing our public green infrastructure.


Todd Gesshe

ISA Certified Arborist