A few months ago the Park Board met to discuss the fate of the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park as it began to lean – becoming a safety hazard for visitors to its site. The results of this meeting in March had the Park Board come to the conclusion that there were only two options, the first would be to build a quarter-million dollar cage around the tree to prop it up, and the second would be to knock it down.
I had a poll on my blog regarding the 40ft tall red cedar and many were in favour of whatever was most natural given the options at the time.
On Monday I picked up the Georgia Straight and found a small blurb about a group from SaveTheHollowTree.com who believed that the Park Board did not explore every possible solution. They brought in experts, arborists, consultants, engineers and produced an extensive report as they were unsure the Park Board considered every option possible when they came to their conclusion.
The Hollow Tree is listed on the Vancouver Heritage Registry (like those plaques you can spot on the side of old building downtown). This is not just a tree but actually a protected piece of nature and as such for any significant changes a meeting must be held with the Heritage Committee. The goal of the report would be to find an option that best preserves the historic value of the tree as this step was overlooked by the Park Board.
A report was presented to the Park Board on June 9th which contained a safe, upright, and practically invisible way to keep the Hollow Tree in its place using some degree of reinforcement – something that would be far more secure and pleasing to the eye than the current Frankenstein-like mess supporting it right now. They even looked into moving it if they no longer wants it in Stanley Park however, the report was ultimately shot down.
Yesterday I had the chance to speak with Lorne Whitehead, Leader of Education Innovation at the University of British Columbia. Lorne, who helped coordinate the team of experts for the report, gave me background on the tree, and the Park Board meetings. “We don’t see a reason not to keep it up,” he said. The report shows that it can remain as-is safely, while being cost-effective, and so that we can all continue to marvel at this wonder of nature.
Lorne said the form of support right now would be to visit the website and read up on the matter (and download the report in PDF). There’s no way to tell the next time this will come up on the Park Board meeting agenda but from independent surveys and public interest, it seems most cherish its heritage value and natural majesty and believe the Hollow Tree should not be tossed into the chipper.
Update: The UBC Botanical Gardens put an offer into the Park Board to take the tree and display it upright. The Park Board (or members at least since I don’t believe there was a meeting) rejected the offer this afternoon and would still like to keep it in the park in “one or two pieces” to use for ecological and educational purposes (Report from the CBC)