Victoria mayor defends decision to cut down tree in the Inner Harbour

Victoria mayor defends decision to cut down tree in the Inner Harbour

WATCH: On Thursday, we told you the story of the tree standing at the intersection of Humboldt and Government. The city is going to cut it down so work can be done to reconfigure that intersection. The mayor says it’s unfortunate, but the tree has to go. Mary Griffin reports.

In a two-year-old video, the camera passes the intersection at Government and Humboldt streets. The trees to the left are green and vibrant.

But they won’t live to see a spring or summer again. The sequoia tree in the video is now gone and the aspen tree is slated to be cut down.

There are changes coming to the intersection. The City of Victoria is re-configuring the intersection to accommodate the new bike lane along Wharf and Humboldt Streets, in addition to making a pedestrian scramble-type intersection. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says it’s unfortunate, but the trees are in the way.

“Once upon a time when the city was designed for cars, someone planted a tree in the middle of the road so it would look nice as cars drove by. Right now, we’re building the city for people, putting trees on the sidewalk where they belong, where people can use them for shade. And we are re-configuring the road to be friendly for cyclists and pedestrians,” Helps said.

But not everyone agrees that taking trees down is the best solution.  Local developer Chris Le Fevre has called on the city in the past to keep, not cut, trees.

“More trees, there is no question about it. We’ve missed the boat there. There should be more trees. They breathe life into the city. They do good things with the air,” Le Fevre said.

But the mayor says cutting the trees down will, ironically, make for a healthier city in the long run.

“We’re making significant efforts to reduce carbon emissions. 40 per cent of emissions in the city and 50 per cent of emissions in the region come from transportation. By re-configuring this intersection, we’re going to reduce reliance on the car. And increase people’s ability to walk and cycle safely,” Helps said.

But that means tourist videos of the Inner Harbour featuring the tree, lush and full, will soon be a thing of the past.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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