25th Street residents call on City of Vernon to replace cut-down heritage tree

Call to replace lost tree

Residents of lower East Hill in Vernon remain upset over the loss of a large heritage tree cut down by the City of Vernon.

In a letter to City Hall, 25th Street resident Tom Carlson expresses "concern and consternation" over the removal of "one of Vernon's most magnificent trees."

The stately silver maple was cut down earlier this month at the corner of Pleasant Valley Road and 25th.

"This tree was a cornerstone for our neighbourhood, to the point where residents of 25th Street banded together to insist that the sidewalk when it was put in, go around the tree, thereby preserving it," Carlson writes.

Carlson notes the city's own Tree Protection Bylaw states such trees must not be cut except, in his words, "the most dire of circumstances, preceded by clear and abundant proof that the tree in question presents an imminent threat to human health and safety."

Carlson is calling on the city to replace the tree with one "of like species and size," noting that the bylaw outlines removed trees are to be replaced by a similarly large tree.

"I've heard three wildly different reasons given for the tree's removal, none of which seems to be supported by any credible evidence," continues Carlson.

The city told residents the tree was unhealthy and blocked drivers' view of the stop sign at Pleasant Valley Road.

Now, all that's left is a stump that's more three feet in diameter.

Carlson says large trees have many benefits beyond their beauty, from enhancement of property values, to their cooling effect during summer.

Neighbour Michael McLellan said his own arborist told him the tree only needed some pruning.

"It was part of the charm of the neighbourhood," said McLellan.

"It was an iconic tree, loved by everyone in the neighbourhood."

Carlson suggests the city also make some traffic changes to reduce speed on the street, a frequently used short cut to avoid busy 27th Street.

"In addition to replanting our lost tree, the easiest, cheapest, simplest way to accomplish this would be to remove the left turn lane at the intersection of 25th Street and 32nd Avenue, and replace it with a barrier, thereby transforming that section of 25th Street into a right-in, right-out traffic situation," he says.

"There are numerous examples of this to draw from in Vancouver and other such cities that have begun prioritizing calm, livable residential neighbourhoods."

Castanet has reached out to the city to see if the tree will be replaced.

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