Ray Travers, chair of the Memorial Avenue Committee, stands near the memorial trees on Shelbourne Street commemorating Canadian war deaths during the First World War. His group has acknowledged concerns, and plans to work with the community, as well as Saanich. Black Press File

Saanich resident throws shade on tree project

The chair of a committee looking to turn Shelbourne Street into a commemorative space acknowledges concerns from the public about the potential impact of the project.

It calls on Saanich to plant large memorial trees along Shelbourne Street running from Pear Street to North Dairy Road among other measures in time for the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The work would complete a project dating back almost a century ago, when Shelbourne Street became Canada’s first Road of Remembrance in Oct. 2, 1921.

These roads marked fallen soldiers killed during the First World War by planting large London Plane trees, and of the 600 trees planted in Victoria and Saanich, some 200 of those remain standing in Saanich along Shelbourne.

Saanich has since forward these plans by the Memorial Avenue Committee to staff.

But Bob Reimer – who lives in the area where the remaining trees stand – wants Saanich to be mindful of the effects that the project might have on homeowners.

Large trees, he said, require open space — space that they that do not always have. “Most of us (including me) have planted seedlings in small yards without regard to the inevitable size of the tree,” he said in a letter. “Roots and branches damage pavement, roofs and drains, not just our own.”

Ray Travers – a private forestry consultant, who has worked for decades in the forestry industry, and chairs the committee pushing the project – acknowledged Reimer’s concerns.

“The comments about the care and maintenance needs of the existing London Plane trees on Shelbourne [Street], by Mr Reimer who lives on this street, are welcome,” said Travers.

“These concerns are the reason why the Memorial Avenue Committee recommends the preparation of a conservation management plan (CMP) so the community can understand in advance the short and long term, say 100 years, care and maintenance needs of planting new and existing London Plane trees, when redevelopment occurs,” said Travers.

A CMP is a practical tool that helps policy makers, landowners, and managers (such as arborists) make sound decisions about conserving and managing heritage resources, he said.

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