Letter: Weeping willow's core is rotten: City of Richmond

City's community services manager responds to tree bylaw enforcement criticism

Dear Editor;

Re: “City needs a tree museum,” Letters, May 11.

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I am writing in response to recent letters regarding the future of a large willow tree located on city property along Seafair Drive.

As a result of pending redevelopment of the adjoining private property, the city arborist assessed the tree earlier this year. It was determined the tree was in decline and has a rotten core, which is compromising its stability. 

Our hope is always to save trees that are healthy, safe and of sound structure, however, community safety must come first.

Given the size of this tree and community interest, the city hired a third party arborist to undertake another hazard and condition assessment of the tree. The independent arborist has supported the city’s assessment, rating the tree at high risk for failure.

As there is an active bird’s nest in the tree, removal will be delayed until after the nesting season is complete. Until then, steps will be taken to protect the tree from the impact of neighbouring construction and protect the public.

The developer of the adjoining property will pay compensation to the city to allow for trees to be planted to replace the willow tree.

The city is strongly committed to both tree preservation and protection. Whenever a tree is removed from city property, new trees are planted at an average ratio of 2:1 and often higher. In 2015, our parks department planted nearly 1,000 new trees on city property. Over the same time period, about 480 trees on city property were removed, of which 380 had been deemed hazardous.

Trees on private property are managed through our tree protection bylaw. Property owners must apply for a permit, whenever seeking to remove trees above specified size limits. In such cases, the city seeks to retain trees where viable. Where trees are removed, the property owner is required to compensate by funding new tree plantings.

Since the bylaw was introduced in 2006, 17,760 trees have been retained and 19,604 new trees have been planted.

Through this bylaw, new tree plantings on private property have exceeded tree removals by about 27 per cent annually.

Cathryn Volkering Carlile

General manager

Community Services

City of Richmond

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