Residents owe legal costs in Douglas fir campaign

"Dougy," Cadboro Bay’s notorious Douglas fir hit the ground Monday morning

Even after “Dougy,” Cadboro Bay’s notorious Douglas fir, hit the ground Monday morning, one of its most outspoken advocates couldn’t stop taking photos of the scene.

Bob Furber, along with fellow area resident Max Cowper-Smith, will now pay for their failed legal effort to save the ancient, 30-metre tree, which Saanich felled Oct. 22, after on Friday the B.C. Supreme Court approved the municipality’s application to have it removed, based on safety concerns over its level of decay.

“When do you walk away?” said Furber, who will now split Saanich’s legal fees with Cowper-Smith. “I don’t know. It’s something that comes from inside and I haven’t walked away yet.”

Crews arrived to fall the tree at Monday at 7:30 a.m., while supporters of the tree, dubbed “Dougy,” were engaged in a wake. Neighbours complied with the district’s requests to leave the tree and after presenting information on the health of the tree – a sonic tomography report commissioned by Cowper-Smith. They stalled the removal for another hour or so, and then Dougy finally came down.

“The tree is on Saanich property and Saanich can do what it likes and we had no say in the matter,” Furber said. “It certainly didn’t go in our favour. … It’s going to be sad because we give quite a lot of money to charity and this year instead we’ll be giving it to Saanich.”

Furber, still reeling from his first day in court, remains upset the issue escalated as far as it did, though he continues to contest the amount of decay in the tree.

“Obviously whenever a situation like this happens, we want to take a step back and say, ‘What happened?’” said Rae Roer, manager of Saanich parks. “We’ll do that in the next days and weeks, but it’s maybe just a little too close right now to figure out exactly what we’ve learned.”

The parks department’s mandate of balancing protection of the urban forest with the health and safety of the community will remain constant, Roer said, yet the way the way in which their message is communicated, is now up for evaluation.

The cut tree has been transported to Haro Woods to decompose and feed the forest, Roer added.

nnorth@saanichnews.com