Trees, Force Mains and Bicycle Paths
By Rita Button
Many of us are worried about the fate of the horse chestnut tree (#56) at the intersection of Dallas and Government Streets near Harrison Pond. The installation of a bicycle path that will move people from one destination to another and a forcemain pipe that will move waste water from James Bay to Clover Point, will result in the removal of certain trees, but the City, the CRD and the arborists they have contracted—Talbot Mackenzie & Associates—have taken the time to identify 104 trees along the forcemain/bicycle path so that the best decisions can be made with a smallest impact to the environment.
Partly because of the July 11, 2018 JBNA meeting, City of Victoria councillors realized the concerns people in James Bay have about the removal of trees, of changing the landscape we love. The Beacon was sent a copy of the arborists’ report.
The list of trees along the route in the report is detailed. The chart’s headings such as crown spread, structure, health and by-law protection, along with remarks and recommendations, allow the reader to see very quickly which trees will not survive, those which may, and those that will. Reasons for each fate are given.
The greatest number of comments and recommendations are given for horse chestnut tree #56 which is by-law protected. The tree already has “a large pruning wound at base” (p.6, Arborist Report) as well as a wound originating from a sewer relocation. The worry for tree #56 is that installing the forcemain according to the current plan, will result in a “significant number of critical roots severed, likely necessitating the tree’s removal.” (p.6, ibid) Talbot Mackenzie & Associates recommend that the forcemain trench be “shifted southward by several metres, closer to Harrison Yacht Pond.” (p.6, ibid) Talbot Mackenzie & Associates also recommend that an arborist do some “exploratory digging…to determine a distance where the tree’s health will not be significantly impacted.”(p. 6. ibid)
The windswept tree #45 is another concern. The forcemain excavation will occur a metre from the tree’s base. Depending on where the roots are, “significant health and/or structural impacts.” (p. 6, ibid) The bike path is planned to “bifurcate around this tree. To avoid severing critical roots, we recommend ‘floating’ the bike path atop them.” (p. 6, ibid)
The title of the Arborist Report is Clover Forcemain Tree Preservation Plan, immediately making clear its bias! If the installation of the pipe and the lane respect and follow these recommendations, we can be assured that the engineers, the city councillors, and the arborists want what we want: trees, parks, eco-transportation and conscientious treatment of waste water.