East Hill neighbours mourn loss of stately heritage tree in Vernon

Loss of tree mourned

East Hill neighbours in Vernon are mourning the loss of a much-loved heritage tree.

Kerry Carlson, who lives on the 3100 block of 25th Street, says a stately silver maple was cut down last week, much to the shock of residents.

She wrote a letter to city council noting that residents petitioned the city in 2014 for traffic calming measures and that at that time, the city widened curbs, but worked around the tree, which towered over the corner of 25th Street and 30th Avenue, just up from the Vernon courthouse.

"The city agreed to do some basic traffic calming measures and add a sidewalk along the length of 25 Street. They also agreed to protect trees along this corridor, which are so important to our neighbourhood. The sidewalk was designed around the trees," Carlson wrote.

She says residents were "very saddened" when the tree was removed.

Carlson and others are urging the city to replace the tree, along with adding more traffic calming measures along 25th, which is a popular short cut across town where residents have often complained of speeding.

"The sidewalk and abutments were a good start, but traffic continues to speed down this key active transportation corridor that our children use. We encourage you to visit this corridor," Carlson urged council.

Margaret and Michael McLellan live right at the corner where the tree was cut down.

They say the city did come out and inspect the tree prior to its removal, and Michael spoke to the crew at the time and was told the tree was unhealthy.

But Michael says he had his own arborist look at the 60- to 80-year-old tree last fall, and he said all it needed was some pruning.

The stump of the grand old tree is more than three feet in diameter.

As the tree was on the city-owned boulevard, there was nothing he could do to stop it being cut down.

City workers claimed the tree obstructed the stop sign at the intersection, but Google Street View images clearly show the sign was visible to oncoming traffic.

"It was part of the charm of the neighbourhood," said McLellan. "It's a pretty sudden change for us."

He said the general feeling in the neighbourhood is one of sadness and disappointment.

"It was an iconic tree, loved by everyone in the neighbourhood."

Just down the street, Jim Leppard said the tree-lined beauty of Lower East Hill is what attracts people to the area.

"We live on this street because of the trees," he said.

He and his wife are worried more trees may be removed.

"Everyone loves the trees. It may have had a few dead branches, but they could have just trimmed those," he said of the maple.

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