DATE: FEBRUARY 19, 2015
Dear Mr. Mayor and Councillors;
At the February 2 council meeting, town staff raised the concern of a failing tree along the waterfront. This tree, estimated to be 200 years old, was examined to be rotting from the inside out and will not survive. Council was given two options; remove the tree entirely or reduce the height of the tree to lessen the safety hazard and, perhaps, continue to provide an eagle perch.
Councillor Avis suggested deferral of a decision by council to enable public input on this matter. The Qualicum Beach Residents’ Association board respectfully offers the following opinion.
The tree canopy within our town is a vital attribute that the town should strive to preserve and protect. The value of trees is well known for their impact on our environment in terms of air quality, water absorption, soil stability as well as noise/sight buffering and beauty. We recognize nothing good is free. Trees cost money. They require maintenance and can cause damage to sidewalks and foundations. Trees can fall.
On balance, the QBRA board believes trees within the town are a much greater value than liability to our community. The QBRA board is of the opinion that the town should establish a policy, including tree replacement, which respects, preserves, and protects the canopy we now enjoy. We recently heard that the dogwood trees are not in the best location for that species and some have failed. This is another example of trees requiring removal for reasons of either health of the trees or safety.
Specific to the beachfront “eagle tree”, the QBRA board is of the view that the tree should be completely removed. We see little purpose in reducing the size of a dead, decaying tree where ongoing monitoring and inspections of the remaining tree would be required. If the tree does have some historical significance, the idea to use some portion of the tree for commemorative purposes, as suggested by Councillor Avis, makes sense.
With respect to the “eagle tree” and the trees along dogwood walk, it is our view that replanting of a suitable replacement species should recognize the importance of those trees. Ideally the replanted trees would be in proximity to the tree(s) removed. If that were not possible for reasons of public safety, or tree survivability, the town would undertake the planting of a tree(s) on other suitable town property with a species suitable for that location.
This proposed town tree management and replacement policy would be limited to town owned property and right-of-ways. The suggested policy would not apply to privately owned land but, for example, would apply to the Municipal Golf Course.
Council has recently heard from delegations that highlight the lack of control that exists with respect to tree removal beyond our town boundaries. It seems only logical that the town should have a policy that protects our trees where the town has the jurisdiction to have such a policy.
In closing, we would like to commend council for deferring this subject to permit time for public input. It is our hope that this input will receive your careful consideration.
On behalf of the QBRA Board
Lance Nater, Director
As a result of a letter written by QBRA member, Pat Jacobson, along with the above letter, Town Council has requested staff to review tree policies in place in other municipalities and report back to Council with recommendations for a tree protection policy in Qualicum Beach. With respect to the “Eagle Tree”, Council voted to lower the tree while leaving the trunk in place which was the Town staff recommendation.