Future of sequoia tree in Centennial Square not in the hands of current council, says mayor

WatchMore reaction tonight to what's quickly becoming Vancouver Island's most talked-about tree. Tuesday night CHEK News told you about the staff report that outlines an idea to cut down Victoria's Sequoia tree. Now, several councillors are weighing in.

Take a walk around Centennial Square and it’s hard to miss the giant sequoia tree.

Especially during the holidays when it’s all lit up for Christmas. But the city has been exploring ways to spruce up the square for years and during public consultations, the suggestion was made to remove the massive tree.

“One of the things that the community identified was that the sequoia while people love the sequoia actually creates a visibility and accessibility issue into the square,” said Jeff Bray Executive director with the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

The DVBA took part in those consultations and Bray says some people felt removing the tree would solve that issue.

“The reality is that some people have identified Centennial Square, especially in the non-summer months as a place they don’t feel particularly safe. Quite frankly no one could see in that was the feedback from members of the community,” said Bray.

City staff listened, and in a report to city council suggest “to trim or remove the sequoia tree for better visual connection to Douglas Street,” the report reads.

The report goes a step further, showing conceptual drawings of a future centennial square without the tree.

But Mayor Lisa Helps says the removal of the tree is not on their radar and any major changes in that report is a discussion for future councils, not this one.

“All we are being asked to consider is short term improvements to make the square more accessible and more inviting that’s it no tree conversation,” said Helps.

Coun. Jeremy Loveday agrees and says he’d never support cutting it down.

“I personally love the tree, like many residents in the city of Victoria and will never support its removal,” said Loveday.

The tree isn’t going anywhere but neither is the report.

“Twenty-years down the road that council might think it’s a good idea, this council doesn’t,” said Loveday.

Council says future upgrades to Centennial Square will likely be on the next council’s to-do list meaning the sequoia will continue to stand, for now.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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