North Vancouver residents protest city plan to chop 200-year-old cedar tree

·3 min read
Ted Satake, 13, climbs an estimated 200-year-old cedar tree scheduled for removal to clear the way for a new development project in the City of North Vancouver, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Ted Satake, 13, climbs an estimated 200-year-old cedar tree scheduled for removal to clear the way for a new development project in the City of North Vancouver, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

An ancient cedar tree in the City of North Vancouver is slated to be sawdust soon and a group of concerned residents is doing what it can to try to save it.

The tree, located on the corner of 21st Street and Eastern Avenue in Central Lonsdale, is estimated to be over 200 years old and is expected to be cut down this week to make way for a development project on what is known as the Harry Jerome Neighbourhood Lands.

According to plans for the project on the city's website, it includes two towers, one 30 storeys tall and the other 26, as well as four mid-rise buildings that will be either five or six storeys tall.

Gabriel Hendry, who lives next door to the land, started an online petition to save the tree Friday night and by Tuesday morning it had more than 2,500 signatures.

That same morning, about 50 people, including Hendry, rallied by the tree with protest signs to show they're upset with the city's decision to remove it.

Residents of the City of North Vancouver rally around an estimated 200-year-old cedar tree they want to save from the chopping block.
Residents of the City of North Vancouver rally around an estimated 200-year-old cedar tree they want to save from the chopping block.(Ben Nelms/CBC)

"We should be cherishing the history of these ancient trees," said Hendry, speaking to CBC's The Early Edition from the protest.

He has been in touch with the city about the issue and told CBC the tree is being taken down because it is blocking the future entrance of what will be an underground parking lot.

"I'm sure that more creative architectural feats have been accomplished, and we expect better from our city," said Hendry.

According to the city, removing the tree located at the corner of 21st Street and Eastern Avenue in Central Lonsdale is the option determined to be the 'least disruptive to the existing mature trees on the site.'
According to the city, removing the tree located at the corner of 21st Street and Eastern Avenue in Central Lonsdale is the option determined to be the 'least disruptive to the existing mature trees on the site.'(Ben Nelms/CBC)

In a March 15 statement, the City of North Vancouver said Darwin Construction, the development company responsible for the project, considered how to keep the tree, but determined it just wasn't possible.

"Unfortunately, the tree conflicts with Darwin's site grading, underground parkade access requirements and the north-south alignment of pedestrian streetscape improvements along Eastern Avenue," according to the statement, which also said the tree interferes with overhead hydro wires.

A resident protests the pending removal of an ancient cedar tree in North Vancouver on March 16, 2021.
A resident protests the pending removal of an ancient cedar tree in North Vancouver on March 16, 2021.(Gordon Loverin/CBC)

The city also said the guidelines for the new development say that every large tree removed must be replaced with three others and in this case, the developer is going to go above and beyond that requirement.

"The development will provide a higher ratio of replacement trees, planting four trees for every tree."

But Hendry says the community really cares about this tree and it's the one they want. He said signs telling people not to park by the tree this week have popped up, leaving himself and others to believe the tree is coming down in the coming days.

"There is surely another way," said Hendry.

LISTEN | Gabriel Hendry talks about trying to save a 200-year-old cedar from the chopping block: