Protesters trying to stop a historic Duncan Maple tree from being cut down put their bodies in the way Friday. As tree cutting equipment arrived to bring it down at 10 a.m., those fighting to save it did all they could do stop it.
Of all the people trying to stop Duncan’s historic Maple tree from being cut down, Kim Walters whose family once owned the Duncan land it stands on, actually feels like its cutting her own roots with it.
“It’s the last thing that remains of the original farm. Everything else is gone. It means an awful lot,” says Walters.
So at the final hour as tree cutting equipment arrives to take the ancient tree down to expand the Island Savings Centre parking lot she’s one of a growing crowd at the site. Showing their frustration and disappointment that despite five weeks of fighting, gathering over 1700 signatures of support to stop the cut, none of has changed its fate.
“The tree became very inconvenient and suddenly they found an arborist that decided that it was a danger tree and therefore it should be removed and that’s the basis of how this all began,” says North Cowichan Councillor Joyce Benson.
Then suddenly protesters decide this will not be the day it ends. One man after another, grappling the fence climbing up into the tall limbs that were due to be cut down within minutes.
“How long will you stay? As long as it’s gonna take again,” says a protester from high in the tree.
Soon the crowd joins them. Rushing the gates held back by security guards, until over a dozen are inside the construction zone.
“I didn’t think anyone would go up it today I didn’t think we would be where are here right now,” says Kim Walters.
Officials insist this will not change the tree’s fate, that the decision is made and its not up for consultation.
“There will be no further consultations considering the removal of the Maple tree and the Island Savings Centre commission will be considering legal action and recovery of costs concerning this issue,” says the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s John Elzinga.
Some residents support that action.
“This tree is dying and dangerous so it needs to come down and Im so grateful that they voted sensibly to take the tree down,” says Duncan resident Theresa Montague.
But with several people now chained to the historic maple, it’s up in the air when that will happen.
“I know that there probably will be some people out here all weekend long,” says Walters.
Leaving Kim Walters with mixed feelings, worried not only now for the tree but the turmoil that’s taken over her town.