By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: May 18, 2012
The cherry trees in downtown Squamish will be replaced by the floral emblem of British Columbia, the dogwood trees.
The dogwood trees, along with low level ornamental shrubs, would make for a new landscape buffer between Second Ave and the new playground area, Mayor Kirkham said.
The main reason behind the possible removal and replacement of the cherry trees is to create the visual perspective of a more open and safe play environment for park users.
While the cherry trees are visually stunning when in bloom, once they leaf the surrounding area becomes dark and uninviting, Kirkham said.
This goes against the primary design intent for the park and playground upgrades, which is to create a space that is always inviting, open and safe, Kirkham added.
Some local residents have decried the district move to remove cherry trees to upgrade the Stan Clarke Park.
The trees are located in a row along the western edge of the park, with the sole Maple at the far north end.
Kirkham said the flowering dogwood tree is considered as visually appealing as the cherry trees.
Along with the dogwood trees, the district also plans to plants 23 birch trees to symbolize the 23 lives lost in war conflict – a tradition that remains a significant in current Remembrance Day celebrations.
These trees will appear elsewhere in three separate groves within the upgraded park area.
Last year, district staff had advised the council to remove the maple and cherry trees on 2nd Ave as they were deemed in conflict with hydro lines.
The mature roots also made irrigation and fencing difficult to install without damaging the trees.
The excessive pruning has also created an unsightly profile, leading to a compromised growth.
Removing the cherry trees and the sole maple, staff hopes, would enable new trees to be planted in line with a linear planting bed, and create a better fencing and irrigation installation.
An arborist hired by the district concluded the Maple tree shows various signs of stress, including sapwood decay in the upper main stem.
Given its many defects, the arborist recommends the district remove the maple tree when possible.
For Cherry trees, the arborist had a more delicate suggestion.
The cherry trees all show various signs of stress, likely in response to the heavy pruning they have, arborist Matthew Wood wrote in a staff report.
“The shallow, sprawling nature of the root systems makes the cherry trees more susceptible to mechanical damage from human traffic,” he wrote.
Still, they display moderate vigor and do not represent any significant risk, he added.
His final suggestion: “Future handling of the Cherry trees should be gentle.”