Friday, February 15, 2019
News News Heritage Tree Cut Down

The chain saws started early this morning and by the late afternoon the massive heritage tree that graced Dunsmuir avenue and the former Bickle garden was no more. Residents passing by, some in tears, stood in the rain and watched as limbs dropped. All expressed surprise and sadness, wondering if there wasn't something they could do.

The new property owner, Fanny Bay resident and Steam Engine Estates developer Wayne Rideout watched the work progress and discussed the matter with concerned residents. He stated that he did not need anyone's permission to cut down the tree and sees the development as a beneficial part of Cumberland's economic development.

This particular tree, a London Plane (Platanus acerifolia) was identified in the Historic Tree Registry of the book "Cumberland Heritage" written by Jennifer Nell Barr and published in 1997 by the Corporation of the Village of Cumberland.

Unlike many other communities, Cumberland has no ordinance protecting heritage trees on private property.

Apparently Rideout is hoping that the three continuous thirty foot parcels he owns, including the one formerly containing the heritage tree will bethe site of the new Cumberland library which he hopes to build and lease back to the village. Although the parcel adjacent to the King George hotel had been selected by the library committee, there may be legal issues with that site according to Adrian Maas of VIRL Central Services, and the RFP may be reopened. Councilor Kate Greening is at the regular library board meeting in Nanaimo today and the Cumberland library is on the agenda.

Meaghan Cursons, president of the Cumberland chamber of commerce had these thoughts after seeing the old tree cut down: "Every time we lose a heritage tree, garden or building in our community we lose part of our unique story. And in Cumberland, our story is at the heart of community economic development opportunities. This mistake has been made over and over and in Cumberland and elsewhere. You can't build a heritage building, you can't plant a heritage tree. Once they're gone, they're gone. This morning the chainsaws and chipper sounded like the death of opportunity - it was heartbreaking. It was the death of a story.  Even sadder because we could have prevented it with proper heritage conservation by-laws and a community commitment to protect Heritage Landmarks and buildings. I really hope this council gets this organized before we lose more of our story."

If you have thoughts about this tree or heritage trees in general please use our contact page


-3 # Eric Kozak 2011-11-26 23:34

This is very sad thing. All the more so as the tree was cut down not even for an actual development but for hoped for development.

During the campaign all the now victorious candidates were all very much in favor of protecting Cumberland's heritage. This would be a great opportunity for them to put actions to words and bring in some by-laws to protect our heritage.

Not too mention getting to the bottom of the question of the location of the library. This came up during the campaign as well. I wasn't able to find anything out but I know Councillor-elect Kishi also said he would look into it. Perhaps he could provide some insight on this.
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-2 # Sally 2011-11-27 13:55
Who cares. really. If he owns the land, let him cut down the trees. Its the owners right.
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-3 # Jesse 2011-11-27 14:40
I called Gwyn Sproule to see if anything could be done about this as it was happening (I live next door to where the tree WAS)as a desperate last minute measure. She called me back after talking to Lesley Baird and informed me that it was too late to save the tree, but quoted Lesley as saying "this will be the last heritage tree to come down". Let's make sure it indeed is. There was also mention of the lot(s) being the future site of the library, although at this point, as we all know, it is just a rumour. As people walk down the street and notice the void and destruction, I see a combination of shock, disgust and deep sadness on their faces. I think we need to question as a society, the sanctity of 'private property' especially when it makes such a huge, negative impact on the community. Should we allow one individual's selfish motivations to leave such a traumatic impact on a community for the so-called logic that it is their 'property'? "They kill everything with money." Manu Chao.
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-4 # Jesse 2011-11-27 15:12
I also talked to Judy Walker, the village bylaw officer in charge of trees. I picked up the heritage tree list from her, because at the time the GE garden lot was in the process of being sold. The tree straddles the two vacant lots and I wanted to know what protection may be available for the tree( thinking the lots belonged to two separate owners). She informed me the list is a draft, therefore merely symbolic, but that two separate owners would have to agree what to do with the tree. It seems like nobody knew both lots (the Bickle Garden and Great escape Garden)belonged to the same owner until it was too late and the developer could do whatever the hell he wanted. Obviously preventative measures such as protection bylaws are the best way to avoid this kind of act. However, we can also take measures that make the perpetrators feel the impact of such destructive acts, such as public boycotts. 'ABove and Beyond' Tree Service carried out the work and we now know who the developer is.
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0 # Amanda 2011-11-27 19:22
I hope this guy never gets another single development approved in our village.
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-4 # Jesse 2011-11-27 20:17
Now your talkin'!
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+4 # Debra Lefebvre 2011-11-29 22:57
It is sad to see a Heritage Tree taken down. But it is, in the absence of rules, a property owners right. Where does the balance lie? Should we be a society that condemns property owners rights when as a community there is only an "understanding of protection" for a tree. If you purchase a property with a protected tree, and are aware at the time of purchase, then for sure, the action is unacceptable. But to purchase a property with no "rider" on the tree, then it is fair game, whether the community likes it or not. The placement of the library is an different issue. Not to be confused with the Tree. (Trees are taken down to supply Libraries, hmm, coincident or not?) Hmmm.
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-2 # W. wilson 2011-12-01 17:08
Funny, I had to have permission to cut trees in the yard where I "owned" my house.
Why would he not need permission? Should we question whether there was preferential treatment?
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0 # Jimmy 2011-12-05 17:11
Just as Rideout Construction had the Chance to Buy The Property, So Did Everyone Else!! Those Lots have been For Sale for a long Time...If you wanted to save a TREE , Buck up the Money and Buy the Property...But No....You would Rather Complain about it than Actually Do Something....Can't wait for the NEW Library...Good Job Rideout!!!!
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