A North Vancouver developer planning to cut down an old cedar tree to make way for an upcoming project has planted a seed of hope for residents rallying to save the giant, stating it is now “exploring all options” to potentially save the tree.
The tree, on the corner of 21st Street and Eastern Avenue in Central Lonsdale, was slated to be cut down last week to make way for the redevelopment of the Harry Jerome Neighbourhood Lands, but Darwin Properties has now held off having the tree felled.
When nearby residents found out the cedar tree was destined to be destroyed due to the redevelopment they quickly came together, organizing petitions and protests in a last-minute bid to save their much-loved community conifer.
Since last week (March 15), the newly formed Save Our Cedar group has collected more than 17,000 signatures, across two petitions, in support of saving the tree that residents estimate to be 205 years old, based on its circumference.
Our petition has received over 15,000 signatures in less than a week. The community of North Vancouver is loud and clear - we want this tree to stand for generations to come! https://t.co/Ak1DT02Jja #SaveOurCedar— Save Our Cedar North Vancouver (@SaveOurCedarCNV) March 21, 2021
The community group has held a number of protests at the tree’s site and one outside Darwin’s office, on Forester Street, in the hope the developer would reconsider its development plan and preserve the healthy tree.
And, it seems their efforts to be “a voice for the tree” have paid off.
After previously stating that all options had already been explored during the project’s planning process with the City of North Vancouver, Darwin now says it’s “working on potential solutions” to save the tree.
“We are exploring all options at this time and we will let the community know as soon as we know more,” a spokesperson for Darwin told North Shore News via email on March 22.
Andrew McMillan, Darwin Properties development manager, originally said "it was clear a number of factors would not allow for its preservation, most significantly its location, which is in conflict with a new pedestrian access, below-grade structure, building envelope, and incoming services off Eastern Avenue."
The Save the Cedar group returned to the tree on Monday holding a “Celebrate the Cedar” community event to continue raising awareness and to celebrate “the air it cleans, the shade it provides, and it’s beautiful branches where squirrels run and eagles perch.”
“We have been successful in delaying the destruction that was to begin Tuesday, March 16, of this magnificent example of what drew so many of us to the North Shore,” Kathryn Swift, nearby resident and member of the Save Our Cedar group said.
“We are eager to respectfully communicate [with Darwin] and work with them to find a solution.”
Swift said after having discussions with others in the environmental design industry, she was convinced the tree could be saved.
“I have been in discussion with David Cox, Western region vice president of Environmental Design and Big Tree Nursery general manager,” she said.
“He advised us that the tree is perfectly fine where it is. I am now convinced of the possibilities for including this tree, together with its twin cedar slightly to the north, as the showcase of the design that could end up making the city and Darwin champions of the environment.
“The goodwill and vision shown would ensure a windfall for all concerned, including us tree huggers.”
Darwin said they would provide an update later this week.
Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.