The trunk of an old arbutus tree he loved that came down in the neighbourhood.

The trunk of an old arbutus tree he loved that came down in the neighbourhood.

Oak Bay family ‘heartbroken’ by cut tree

Legally removed arbutus has resident questioning local bylaws

The sudden departure of a large arbutus on Cadboro Bay Road has one family “heartbroken.”

“I really think the bylaws failed, I don’t think that tree should have come down,” said Jane Van Sickle, a resident in the 2300-block of Cadboro Bay Road. “They need to adapt. If you now there’s a tree that absolutely protected by the type and size, that needs to be considered.”

She was at work March 8 when her son, home sick from school, called to tell her the tree adjacent to their home was being cut down.

She returned home that day “shocked and horrified” to find the mature arbutus tree gone.

“The lot beside us was heaped with the enormous limbs and mountains of leaves. I’m not sure how this could happen, as an 85-year-old tree should be protected,” she said.

The tree was legally removed, as it would have been damaged by work done within the building envelope on the property.

While legal, Van Sickle questions the building design and the need for a large home on the lot.

“I’m just heartbroken,” she said. “I just think the bylaws need some work.”

“The homeowner has complied with the bylaws to do with building and to do with trees,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.

He recommends residents get involved as the municipality endeavours to start reviewing relevant bylaws during potential Urban Forest Strategy implementation. It’s a process he says will span the next few years, starting with review of the recent draft report.

“That’ll be coming forward in the next couple of months. I urge the community to let us hear what they think. It will be an attempt to balance the interests of the trees and the interests of homeowners who wish to build.”

Van Sickle plans to follow the process.

 

“I think bylaws need to be changed. Perhaps in the case of mature protected trees the plan can be adapted,” Van Sickle said. “When there is an exceptional tree, that should go ahead of (design), if it doesn’t severely affect the blueprints.”