Statement from the City Regarding Empress Tree in Memorial Park
March 1, 2018
We are sorry. We tried our best to save the Paulownia tomentosa (Empress Tree) in Memorial Park. We originally believed we could work around the tree, but unfortunately, the large shallow roots extended further to the downhill side of the tree than expected. What we learned from arborists once the roots were exposed, is that the tree did not have strong deep roots. Instead, the shallow roots extended downhill near the ground surface making relocation impossible and making the tree vulnerable to disturbance. Consideration was given to redesigning retaining walls around the tree; however, arborists expressed concern that this would still affect the long term viability of the tree.
We even looked at the option of removing some of the roots to work around the tree; again, unfortunately, due to the manner of the tree’s shallow spreading roots and how it has grown, i.e., pushing the majority of its growth/weight and roots to one side as well as the amount of roots that needed to be cut, the tree would not have survived this approach.
The decision to remove the tree was not an easy one. We do acknowledge how difficult and emotional this news may be for some in the community.
We will continue working towards completing the Memorial Park project. The original design, which includes a tree in this location, will be constructed. The tree will be replaced with a suitable tree species, and a planting plan to ensure that this design feature includes a healthy tree for years to come. Again, we can appreciate how difficult this news may be for you; especially, those of you whose feedback contributed to the design of this project through the public open houses and survey, which inquired into the possibility of keeping this tree. This is not the outcome we wanted either. We hope that you can take comfort in knowing that the City is taking steps to improve the tree canopy in White Rock.
Beyond planting new trees in City parks, there are numerous Official Community Plan (OCP) policies that support the planting of new street trees in City boulevards adjacent to new developments, and establishing a significant ‘green and treed’ buffer along North Bluff Road. For example, the following are some of the steps underway to improving the tree canopy in White Rock:
- City Tree Planting Plan – A ‘City Tree Planting Plan’ for street and park trees in White Rock is being developed, starting with the streets on the east side of the City. According to research that was previously carried out, there are approximately 2,500 spaces available for new trees on City-owned lands. It is anticipated that consultation for the City Tree Planting Plan will start in late 2018.
- Centennial Park – There are approximately ten (10) locations where additional trees can be planted. There is a possibility that more trees can be planted in the vicinity of the proposed All Abilities/All Ages playground. Plantings are proposed for spring 2018.
- Engineering Projects – Replacement trees are planned for those removed during construction on projects such as Johnston Road, the Water Treatment Plant and the street reconstructions on the eastern side of the City. Open City boulevard spaces will also be evaluated for potential tree replacement. Views will be factored into the replacement strategy for the east side street reconstructions.
- North Bluff Road – A longer-term approach is under consideration for widening the boulevards on North Bluff Road, between Oxford Street and Finlay Street (and potentially beyond) and establishing a double row of trees that brackets a wider, ‘multi-use pathway’ that accommodates pedestrians and cyclists.
- Tree Guidelines for Developments – The OCP includes policies that support new street plantings in City boulevards and protection of mature healthy trees throughout the City. Engineering and Parks staff will work with Planning and Development Services staff to implement these policies as a part of the Zoning Bylaw update, development and building permit applications (which also involves implementation of the Tree Management Bylaw, as required), and other related policy work.
February 19, 2018 Regular Council Meeting | Increasing City’s Tree Canopy
The Corporate Report, “City Tree Planting Program 2018 – 2019” was presented to Council at the Regular Council Meeting on Monday, February 19, 2018 which highlighted some of the steps mentioned above that are underway for improving the tree canopy in White Rock.
If you would like to watch the discussion that took place regarding increasing the City’s tree canopy and/or the report on replacement and relocation of trees in the Town Centre as part of the Johnston Road Revitalization project, please go to our website >> click on “Council & Committees” tab >> Click “Video Recording of Council Meetings >> scroll down to “February 19, 2018 “Public Hearing (Bylaws 2237 & 2238) & Regular Council Meeting” and click on “Video” >> then scroll down and click on:
• Section 5.2.5 “City Tree Planting Program 2018 – 2019”
• Section 5.2.6 “Johnston Road Gateway – Update”
• Section 5.2.7 “Operational Plan for the Parks Department”
To read the corporate reports mentioned above, please click here and go to the following pages:
• Page 34: “City Tree Planting Program 2018 – 2019”
• Page 37: “Johnston Road Gateway – Update”
• Page 42: “Operational Plan for the Parks Department”