North Vancouver building redesigned to preserve 200-year-old cedar tree

·2 min read
The tree at the corner of 21st Street and Eastern Avenue in Central Lonsdale is estimated to be more than 200 years old.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
The tree at the corner of 21st Street and Eastern Avenue in Central Lonsdale is estimated to be more than 200 years old. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Plans for a multi-building development in North Vancouver have been altered to accommodate an ancient cedar tree, after an online petition garnered thousands of signatures to save it.

Estimated to be more than 200 years old, the tree at the corner of 21st Street and Eastern Avenue in Central Lonsdale was slated to be cut down for a development on what is known as the Harry Jerome Neighbourhood Lands.

The Darwin Properties development includes two towers — one 30 storeys tall and the other 26 storeys — as well as four mid-rise buildings that will be five to six storeys tall.

In a statement, Darwin Properties said a six-storey rental building will be redesigned to accommodate the tree.

Ted Satake, 13, is pictured in the branches of the 200-year-old tree on March 16.
Ted Satake, 13, is pictured in the branches of the 200-year-old tree on March 16. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The company said its team worked with an arborist who determined the tree was healthy, with a wide and shallow root system.

"As a result, our entire team of architects, engineers and consultants spent the last four weeks redesigning the building, carving into the original design," the statement read.

The redesign will delay the construction of the rental building, but CEO Oliver Webbe said he is glad there is a solution.

"We know the tree means a lot to many people, and we are proud to have found a solution that allows the tree to remain in the community."

Symbolic win

"We as a community are just elated that that the tree will be preserved and staying in its community," said Gabriel Hendry, who started an online petition to save the tree.

The petition garnered over 23,000 signatures.

Residents of the City of North Vancouver rallied around the cedar tree in March. Over 23,000 people signed a petition to save the tree.
Residents of the City of North Vancouver rallied around the cedar tree in March. Over 23,000 people signed a petition to save the tree.(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Hendry thanked Darwin for listening to the community and working with them.

However, he said the incident is a lesson that more work needs to be done, pointing out the City of North Vancouver is one of the few municipalities in British Columbia with no form of tree protection on private land.

"We are working with the city in that in getting some dialogue going and regarding tree protection on private land. But time is of the essence. Every day that goes by another tree, just like this one, can be cut down," he said.

Hendry has hope.

"This tree represents all of the old trees in our city here in North Vancouver. And the fact that we were able to save this one, I think means that we can save many more."