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Lions Gate Hospital cedar will be saved, VCH says

Score another one for the trees
Alex Jamieson dresses as the Lorax to make his point on saving a cedar tree on the south side of Lions Gate Hospital, Oct. 31, 2022. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

A mature cedar tree set to be chopped down for short-term parking at Lions Gate Hospital will live on.

Vancouver Coastal Health had all the permits required to remove the 40-year-old Deodar cedar on 13th Street, as part of the overall expansion of the hospital, but community members rallied in the fall of 2022 to save it.

Retired planner and self-styled Lorax Alex Jamieson spoke for the tree, urging City of North Vancouver council to reconsider before issuing development variance permits for the project. He also met with Vancouver Coastal Health staff. Jamieson argued that Lions Gate’s patients lose the health benefits that come from having a view of trees while the city would lose out on a natural source of shade and carbon sequestration.

North Vancouver resident Jon Rawlinson started an online petition to save the tree, which racked up more than 3,500 signatures.

Safety fencing went up around the cedar in late April and Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed Friday the tree would stay rooted right where it is.

“The project team redesigned the entryway to save the Deodar cedar on 13th Street where the existing entrance is. The project team worked with PCL to remove two parking spots and shorten a third stall to save the tree. PCL engaged a qualified arborist to ensure proper tree care and management during construction,” the statement read. “A tree protection plan has been put in place to ensure proper equipment and techniques are used during and after construction and to educate builders and contractors on the importance of preserving trees during construction.”

In an interview, Jamieson said he didn’t expect the campaign to be so successful.

“At first they didn’t, but they listened,” he said. “I’m pretty happy about it.”

The reduction in short-term parking is more than a worthy tradeoff, he added.

“Big deal,” he said. “We can deal with that.”

While he’s pleased the cedar will stand, Jamieson said the city never should have allowed the designs to get so far in the approval process without accommodating the tree.

“If they bothered looking at the plans, they would have seen a beautiful tree was going to be chopped down,” he said. “So council flubbed it. The staff flubbed it. That’s kind of sad.”

It’s not the first time in recent years that a major development has been redesigned on the fly to accommodate an existing tree. In 2021, Darwin Properties chopped part of 113-unit rental building’s design to save a cedar at the corner of 21st Street and Eastern Avenue in Central Lonsdale.

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