Bionic Hollow Tree for Stanley Park

Comments 14 by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Hollow Tree in Stanley Park is a tourist favourite. On the West side of Stanley Park Drive, it’s a frequent stopping zone and photo op. During the storms of 2006, the tree was weakened beyond already being hollow at the base, and the Parks Board would now like to spend $200,000 to restore it.

The Vancouver parks board will vote next week on a staff recommendation to slice off the remains of the red cedar, believed to be about 1,000 years old, and lay the trunk’s halves out so that tourists can walk between them an appreciate the tree’s size…

… A staff report says more recent wind damage means the the only option to keep the cedar safely upright would be an awkward webbing of external braces. The $200,000 cage would ruin photos taken at the opening in the trunk and could not guarantee the tree wouldn’t fail further. [The Province]

This is not the first time a prominent tree has been given a little bit of a boost from cables and supports. On one of my weekend trips to Vassar when I lived in New England I was told about the London Plane tree on Library Lawn. It boasted the longest unsupported tree limb, and was even in the Guinness Book of Records. When the branch became unstable and the tree could no longer sustain its weight, cables were attached to keep the record-setting limb from budging.

The Vassar Library & the London Plane Tree – Photo Credit: Joseph A on Flickr

On the radio this morning Jeff O’Neil was saying that if tourists coming to Vancouver are most concerned about a hollow tree, then there’s something seriously wrong with that picture. Sure, I like the Hollow Tree, but I also like all of the other 404 hectares of the park. When our favourite big tree (that we called “Sam”) was toppled was there a rush to get him propped back up? No. Mainly because he was returned to nature, but part of me thinks it was due to the fact that he was located down a less traveled path, and not within handy-cam shooting distance from the roadway.

A lot is being done in the park in the name of tourism (ie. man-made clearcuts for expanded parking lots) meanwhile the true treasures and beauties of the park lie far from any parking spaces.

What would be best for the tree and public safety at this point? I’ll open it up for another Miss604 Poll:

(Poll Closed)

Should the Parks Board spend almost a quarter of a million dollars to support and create a bionic Hollow Tree? Or should nature simply take its course, and we’ll lose a familiar natural landmark?

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14 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. RaulThursday, March 27th, 2008 — 12:27pm PDT

    I think the hollow tree is beautiful, and it would be worth preserving. That being said, when you mention the $ 250,000 dollars (that could be very well spent in other areas, like – providing shelter to homeless people, investing in housing for low-income families, etc.) I kind of accept that nature will take its course anyways. So, I say – save the money for other purposes that are just as commendable (but can have more impact).

  2. crunchyThursday, March 27th, 2008 — 12:32pm PDT

    Let it go….it is a old tree..let it do what old dead trees are supposed to do..lay down, rot and become nurse trees to new growth.

    It wasn’t like it was a HUGE hollow tree…you couldn’t drive through it or anything.

    I think a nice little board by it with the story and age of the tree beside it is enough….and a blurb about the windstorm that trashed it, etc.

  3. GregThursday, March 27th, 2008 — 1:54pm PDT

    $200k? For that much, the tree should have moving limbs and eat tourists.

  4. TawcanThursday, March 27th, 2008 — 3:02pm PDT

    I heard what Jeff O’Neil said and I totally agree. There are better ways to spend the $200k. Use the money on downtown east side instead.

    A portion of Stanley Park was destroyed by the storm few years ago and the government has been pouring millions and millions of dollar into the park. But look at what’s happening the rest of BC forests. Money can be better spent elsewhere.

  5. Ian BellThursday, March 27th, 2008 — 6:12pm PDT

    Um, no. The entire lesson of Stanley Park is that it’s a living, breathing ecosystem. Human intervention in the name of whimsy is what left so many of the weakly-rooted, fragile trees that were easily blown down last year that otherwise would have gradually subsided to old age and fallen to regenerate their forest.

    We will never get another 1,000-year-old tree anywhere in the park as long as the attitude that we need to prune and preserve and otherwise manipulate nature’s wiser path prevails.

    $200K could fund a safe injection site for more than a year. Or hire and equip two more police officers. Or otherwise solve some real problems that this city has.

    It’s a stump. Get over it.

  6. Jan KarlsbjergThursday, March 27th, 2008 — 7:53pm PDT

    Waaaay too much to spend on propping up a tree.

    It was already a “freak of nature” having survived this long after this much damage. But if it can only live on through man-made structures, it’s now a “freak of culture”.

    I just used the contact form on the park board’s website to let them know that I think they should use the $200,000 on something else.

  7. Quick Friday early morning link-fest « Random Thoughts of a Student of the EnvironmentFriday, March 28th, 2008 — 12:20am PDT

    […] Rebecca is asking YOU whether you think that $ 200,000 dollars should be spent on making the Stanley Park hollow tree more sturdy. I personally think… um, no. Give me that money and I’ll find dozens of other worthy causes. Much as I love the hollow tree. […]

  8. Barbara DodukFriday, March 28th, 2008 — 3:25pm PDT

    Well it is a better idea than robotic dinosaurs in Stanely Park but I have to agree with most people here, it seems like a waste of time. Plant some new trees to replace all the ones that fell in the wind storms, that would be a good use of the funds, or how about actually improving the seawall.

  9. Erika RathjeFriday, March 28th, 2008 — 8:25pm PDT

    I was thinking the same thing as Barbara: plant some more trees! Why hasn’t anyone else mentioned that?

    I never knew about the Hollow Tree until the other old giant fell down. My friend was tired so we didn’t get close to the Hollow Tree, maybe another time (soon). A hollow tree in Cates Park in North Van (also ravaged by the windstorm and still looking like a bomb went off) inspired a childhood novel and later fell backward into the creek. No one was there propping it up. I don’t mind the idea of halving it for more tourist oggling but then it’ll never really serve its natural purpose, will it?

    About those parking lots… why are they paving it when they could use mulch or something instead?

  10. Stanley Park Restoration Update April 2008 » Miss604’s Vancouver Blog by Vancouver Blogger Rebecca BollwittSunday, April 6th, 2008 — 6:53pm PDT

    […] good news for 88% of folks who participated in my poll will be pleased to know that the Hollow Tree will be laid to rest instead of going even more […]

  11. Save the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park » Vancouver Blog Miss 604Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 — 10:39am PDT

    […] had a poll on my blog regarding the 40ft tall red cedar and many were in favour of whatever was most natural given the […]

  12. tiaFriday, October 10th, 2008 — 5:34pm PDT

    well i think hallow tree is kinda good for tourrisom but it look kinda scary and we heard from tour guide said the legend has it that hallow tree is haunted.and it’s true lots of us experience it when we go driving around the seawall at night. there was 1 night i experienced the most scariest feeling sensation that something was with us that we could not explain. all of sudden as we pass through by hallow tree we start to get hair standing up on our head & spine we all went quiet just keep on driving the feeling lasted for full 3 minute. it was so scary and i know for a fact there was some kind of a spirit or something was present with us at that moment i was so scared out of my mind didn’t say a word till we passed it im not the only one felt it .my friends in the car felt the same was a good thing what ever it was with us didn’t reveal itself to us other we would all faint or wouldn’t no what to do . and i don’t care bout some of you mite not believe in spirits or ghosts but i do cause i experience it with my freinds. think about it the tree has history it been there for 1000 years. and there lots of accidents ,thing happend by hallow tree that people died there every year that they failed to mention at least 1 accident happend or something.but it is kind of interesting and amazing real story it not a lie.if you go to library do research about the legend of hallow tree in Stanleypark Vancouver you will find history bout it.

  13. V LongSaturday, October 25th, 2008 — 8:53am PDT

    I cannot believe this, with all the starving and homeless people in this City that you are actually going to waste 200,000 on a dead tree, come on people wake up and start thinking about the living not the dead.

  14. D PierceMonday, September 14th, 2009 — 11:54am PDT

    Check out a trailer for the upcoming documentary about the restoration of Stanley Park’s fabled Hollow Tree, featuring Douglas Coupland.

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