LETTER: Save Harrison trees

The sidewalk is cordoned off on Lillooet Road by the post office. When I saw that, I thought, “Oh, the utility pole is looking a bit weathered and is going to be replaced. Good idea.”

But, alas, a few days later I spotted a Village notice that stated the red oak tree, planted in 1933 by famous actor Clark Gable, is to be removed. No reason is given. I can surmise that the reason of safety or infrastructure damage will be given if I inquire.

Red oak trees (Quercus rubra) live for 200-plus years. Mature trees like the row along Lillooet Avenue provide many eco-services to our community. Perhaps first and foremost: shade.

Under the shade of their leaves, the temperature is three to six degrees cooler. In a summer of record-high temperatures, this should be appreciated.

Let’s look at the facts: Smart Growth and Livable Communities, a non-governmental organization, notes that most environmental benefits of trees come after they are at least 30 years old.

The Union of BC Municipalities in their 2008 publication, Planting our Future: A Toolkit for Communities, stated that the larger trees grow, the more they are worth. This is because larger trees are better at sequestering carbon (taking up), providing shade, reducing storm water flows and reducing air and water pollution.

So it would follow that preserving mature trees should be a priority for local governments.

So what’s the record in the Village of Harrison Hot Springs? Over the 26 years I have resided in Harrison countless mature trees have been removed in the downtown area – along St. Alice Street 18 mature Douglas firs; by the boat launch a half dozen tall cottonwoods; on the beachfront a dozen western red cedars – and so it goes.

Yesterday the picnickers all huddled under the existing trees. None were basking in the many open spaces of lawn.

The tree bylaw does not even ask developers to replace the trees removed – 55 distinct trees in the case of one development – if a permit is issued.

Are we to become a “concrete jungle?” Perhaps John Muir, Father of the American National Parks System, had it right: “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”

I implore you, council of Harrison Hot Springs, to improve your record. I have asked you to do so for 26 years.

–Janne Perrin,

Harrison Hot Springs

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