A well-known Victoria tree and Dallas Road landmark is scheduled to be removed by the City of Victoria as it prepares to lay down a massive sewage pipe and build a bike path.
For decades, the unusual looking tree, believed to be a horse chestnut, has stood on the south side of Dallas Road near the Harrison Yacht Pond slanting inwards towards the road.
“It’s been contorted and formed by the storms along the seashore,” says former Victoria city councillor Pam Madoff, who lost her council seat in 2018.
The longtime advocate for heritage in the city says she was surprised to learn the tree, which she says many children call the “Harry Potter Tree”, was being removed.
“When I was still on council, the importance of that tree was pointed out, and the impression was, that every effort would be made to retain it,” she says.
A tree removal notice says the tree is being removed “to allow retention of the large Elm trees across the street for the installation of the CRD forcemain/bike path project.”
The notice also says, “The City of Victoria works to keep our 33,000 city-owned trees healthy and beautiful. We maintain these trees, plant new trees and remove trees that are no longer healthy and often pose risks to our community.”
Madoff, who spent time Monday talking to people in the area, believes residents are being blindsided by the tree’s removal. She thinks the sign won’t be seen since the area around the tree is already part of the construction site.
“We’ve got all of this infrastructure, we’ve got the bike paths, sometimes its the little things in the city that really resonate,” she says.
The city has come under fire recently for removing, and considering the removal, of other prominent trees. In January, it removed a large Aspen tree at Humboldt and Government Street to make way for bike lanes and a scramble crosswalk.
More recently, a July 2019 staff report indicated that Centennial Square’s large Sequoia tree could potentially come down as part of Centennial Square upgrades. Despite renderings showing the tree’s removal, Mayor Helps and several council members told media the Sequoia would be staying put.
As for the Dallas Road tree, it is situated directly in the path of where the CRD’s “Clover Forcemain” will go. The pipe will transport wastewater from the Clover Point Pump Station to the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.
It will run from Clover Point to Ogden Point, where it will connect to an undersea pipe linking to the treatment plant.
According to the tree removal notice, work to remove the Dallas Road tree will occur between August 1 and August 30, 2019.
The notice says 90 replacement trees will be planted.
The city says this particular horse chestnut is in declining health.
“We feel that in this case, this is a very difficult decision and one that we feel are confident in making the correct decision despite the fact this tree will be lost,” Thomas Soulliere, director of Parks with the City of Victoria, said.