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.
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:
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?