Ŧoday there was an article in the Vancouver Sun about the possibility of the Park Board saving the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park, which would reverse the original decision to cut it down and make a horizontal monument out of it because of safety concerns. A group of citizens–including people with technical expertise–has come up with a plan to stabilize the tree and raised some money toward it – and are asking the Park Board to approve the plan and contribute $60,000 intended for landscaping and signage. This will be an item on the agenda of the Park Board meeting on Monday, October 27, at the Park Board office, starting at 7 PM.
In Vancouver, we sometimes have a limited view of Heritage – it makes us think of charming old houses that were built a century ago. However, many of us have a much wider view of Heritage, which can include anything from trees to boulevards to wharfs. I have been a member for many years of the Cambie Heritage Boulevard Society, which succeeded in preserving most of the trees on the boulevard when they were threatened with removal by the Canada Line construction (I do not take any credit for this – the credit lies with the leadership of the CHBS over the years!).
The Park Board has encountered considerable controversy this past year over the removal of trees and structures that could be defined as Heritage in Vancouver parks. This includes Japanese Heritage trees that were planted in Oppenheimer Park to recognize the Japanese people who once lived in this area and elsewhere in Vancouver who were forcibly moved away from the West Coast with few of their belongings during WWII. In this case, the plans were revised so some of the trees could be saved. It also includes the trees that were cut down in Queen Elizabeth Park, which formed part of a plantation to illustrate the various species of trees in western North America, and, of course, the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park. There is also an ongoing controversy over the pending destruction of Jericho Wharf, which served as a seaplane port in the second quarter of the 20th century. While a small portion is intended to remain, a group of concerned citizens would like to see the entire wharf preserved and find some affordable method of stabilizing it (the cost of restoring the entire wharf is one of the main hurdles). COPE commissioners had asked if the decision to demolish the Jericho Wharf could be delayed until a more thorough investigation of the options can be carried out. Finally, Mount Pleasant pool, which is the last outdoor pool in Vancouver that is not on the waterfront, is regarded by many people in that community as a heritage structure.
The Park Board could save itself a lot of trouble if it applied a Heritage lens before proceding with demolitions and removals of trees and structures in our parks, and consulted more thoroughly and meaningfully with the residents of Vancouver about their ultimate fate.