Mature Gastown Trees Slated for Removal

The City will be removing 6 of the 8 mature trees in Gastown today, on the 200 block between Water and Cordova.

I was informed of this by email at around 3pm yesterday by Tanis Knowles (Planner, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhoods Group Central Area Planning for  City of Vancouver)

The charm of the street is the mature urban trees.

The Carrall Street Greenway has opened this up and they intend to remove the trees “nearing the end of their lifespan” in favour of a new wider root area for new saplings. (I am not sure of the size of the new trees but they won’t have the height and character of the old Gastown trees.)

If you didn’t receive the city email – sent just after 3pm yesterday, it is copied below, along with my midnight letter to the Greenway planners.

Is there anything that can be done? it looks like the greenway will be nothing but fancy paving and a few small trees.

I am very concerned and alarmed.

All restoration and building on this block has been done while preserving the trees that are there.

By the way, the city promise of more trees was always part of the Greenway plan, nothing new here.

My email to Tanis:

I have lived in Van Horne Building (2nd floor in the small building on the corner of Carrall and Cordova) for 12 years now, and was on the Greenway Planning Committee for several years.

I am very unhappy to hear that most of the mature Greenway trees will be removed. And suddenly. Tomorrow. It is a pity that the mature trees won’t be able to help make the greenway green.

What size will the new 200 block trees be? How long will it take them to grow to have a green presence on the street, and how can these new trees be augmented by other green plantings – so the greenway isn’t just fancy paving.

Already we have compromised on the original concept of having sidewalk cafes integrating the area and making use of the narrowed traffic lanes. Once the bike lanes were placed on both sides of the street that amenity was lost. It has become a “Throughway” plan, rather than a varied and integrated urban streetscape.

Now with the trees being taken down, this is a serious problem. For those of us who have a living stake in this area, it is important that what we do have here isn’t taken away in favor of a streamlined plan.

I am very concerned about the Hastings-Cordova block, which is where I live. It is very important that everything possible is done to preserve the mature trees on this block, which are the only amenity you find here. With those trees gone the block will be a wasteland. Outside our window, instead of seeing the seasonal changes of the trees and their leaves, we will see the rundown buildings across the street, and perhaps a bit of a treetop or two.

Yes the trees that are there are old trees, but surely there is a way to preserve them for several more years to come. I understand that the city planning has to project into the future. When we planned the greenway initially it was not to remove the trees that are already present, but to add to them.

Those of us who live here love the trees that have survived through so much hardship. This area desperately needs as much green growth as possible, please don’t remove the few trees we have NOW in favor of trees that will grow to become lush LATER.

On 3-Feb-09, at 3:07 PM, Tanis Knowles wrote:

Hello, You are receiving this email as a past participant in public consultation regarding the Carrall Street Greenway or as a member of the Carrall Street Greenway Stewardship Group. This email provides an update on a recent development related to the required removal and replacement of some of the existing trees on the 200-block (between Cordova St and Water St), as part of the Greenway construction. Our hope was that all existing trees could be retained on this block, however it has recently been determined that six of the eight existing trees need to be removed and replaced. Detailed assessment was undertaken by the City’s arborist and landscape designers, who concluded that the trees in question are nearing the end of their lifespan and will be further compromised by the planned construction work. By replacing the trees now, improved tree pits can be constructed that will ensure replacement trees have the most adequate environment to grow and mature. If the trees were not removed, the arborist predicts that they will require replacement in the near future, however replacement trees would not benefit from improved tree pits, which are only possible if constructed now as part of the full block reconstruction. In order to keep to the Greenway construction schedule for the 200-block (target completion by end of April 2009), removal of the six trees is planned for tomorrow, Wednesday, February 4th. Four of the trees identified for removal and replacement are on the east side of the street and two are on the west side. Once construction of the Greenway on this block is complete, there will be a net gain of six new trees for a total of fourteen trees on this block compared to the existing eight trees. If you have any questions about this or anything else related to the Greenway, please contact the construction Project Manager, Linda Chow, or myself.

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