Update: Party responsible for damaged tree to pay Oak Bay district more than $48,000


WATCH: A beloved member of an Oak Bay neighbourhood is gone. A large old chestnut tree was chopped down. It was dying, but not from natural causes. It was poisoned. Kori Sidaway reports.

UPDATE: The District of Oak Bay says the party responsible for poisoning a large chestnut tree on Beach Drive has agreed to pay $48,350 for the removal and replacement of the damaged tree.

The district determined the amount on the appraised value of the tree based on the “largest transplantable tree available and additionally considers the resulting impact to the urban forest due to the larger size of the damaged tree.”

The district did not identify the party’s responsible and says council will determine how remaining funds from the settlement will be used.

“The amount collected should send a strong message to everyone that we are serious about protecting and enhancing our urban forest in Oak Bay and there are serious consequences for this type of behaviour,” Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen said in a statement.

Oak Bay officials say a replacement tree for Beach Drive will be selected based on available stock, growth potential and associated benefit to the urban tree canopy.

ORIGINAL STATEMENT: The view outside Sharon Krebs’ bedroom window is changing.

“It’ll take a hundred years before we have a tree like that again,” said Oak Bay resident Sharon Krebs.

Across the street, an old, dead chestnut tree is being chopped down.

“In May I suddenly noticed there was an awful lot of debris along the curb and blowing into the driveway, and that’s kind of odd because that’s kind of an autumn thing, not a spring thing,” said Krebs.

The 30-year-old tree was wilting, but not naturally.

Poison was pumping through its trunk.

“I spoke to the city and he said ‘if it’s what I think it is, it’s killed the cells and there’s no way the tree’s coming back,'” said Krebs, remembering a conversation with the District of Oak Bay

Krebs was told someone had drilled holes into the base of the tree, which sits on district property, and filled them up with an unknown poison.

The trees’ rapid decline spurred an investigation by both the District of Oak Bay and police.

Lacking evidence, the criminal investigation was put on hold, but a civil investigation is allegedly still in progress.

This isn’t the first case of tree poisonings on the west coast. Two prominent cases in Vancouver saw neighbours fork out between $25,000 to $50,000 in damages in civil suits.

Back in the Oak Bay neighborhood, they have their theories of who did it.

“Well I believe the city does too. There are only two choices: the person everyone thinks it is, or a random tree poisoner.  No matter who it is, it’s awful,” said Krebs.

Sharon is calling on the district to set a precedent, to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“Trees make a difference, and if you take down a hundred old chestnut, that’s going to have a huge impact,” said Krebs.

“If people keep doing it throughout the city, then you’re really going to be in trouble.”

The district and residents who own the nearby home didn’t respond to requests for comment.


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