9/15/2012

Community Concern Saves Oakland's St. Albans Sequoia


View St. Albans Sequoia To Be Saved in a larger map


Whether we are in the back country, or in urban areas, there is rarely good news when it comes to saving significant trees in British Columbia. Here, in Canada's most treed province, the value of our woody wonders has perhaps been diluted by the sheer volume of them.

Occasionally though, dentritic defenders win a battle, if not the war. Such is the case of the St. Albans Giant sequoia in the Victoria neighbourhood of Oaklands. It has been under threat since the property on which it grows was sold to developers.

Giant sequoia have a very long association with Victoria, even though the huge trees are native to California. That the trees exist here shows early Victoria's connection to the American state.

Some of the trees were brought as saplings by Californians moving north, and sequoia seeds were advertised in Victoria as early as 1860. Local nurseries also raised sequoias for sale locally. Many must have been planted by displaced Californians that missed their unique state tree.

Today, Victoria's Giant sequoias have become landmarks, and their conical tops tower above everything around them. The tallest sequoia, which may be the tallest tree in Victoria, is 52 meters (170 ft) tall. But let's get back to the sequoia on the St. Albans property.

Earlier this summer, Cindy, an Oaklands resident, contacted me to see if I might be able to offer some suggestions for saving several Garry oaks, and one sequoia. I responded with some ideas, and waited to hear of the fate of this landmark tree.

Recently I received a follow up email from Cindy. In it she says:
"Many people came out to the Community Association Land Use forum to speak out in favour of protecting the Sequoia tree. This resulted in these wishes being considered in the report drafted for recommendations associated with the approval of variance application being put forth by the developer. 
Over a month has passed and this morning, the application went before the Planning and Land Use Standing Committee.  I have good news!!  The committee approved staff recommendations that a restrictive covenant be registered on the Sequoia prior to a public hearing that will also take place! 
 In case you are interested, here is the report that the Committee considered, and upon which made its decision:
Planning and Land Use Standing Committee Report
Thank-you again for taking the time to help provide us with guidance.  This helped contribute to what looks like a happy ending!"
Loggers long ago removed the largest Western red-cedar and Douglas-fir from the Victoria area. With the native big tree competition gone, the biggest trees in town are Giant sequoias. All the old, huge sequoias have heritage value and deserve to be protected.

Congratulations to Cindy and the Oaklands neighbourhood for taking action on behalf of their neighbourhood giant, and saving it from becoming yet another victim of the relentless development that has been taking place here since the 1850s.

I am happy to have been a small part of the effort to successfully save what is probably the neighbourhood's oldest planted tree.

Are you trying to save a significant Vancouver Island big tree? Let us know in a comment, or contact us (see info on side bar). We are happy to help in any way we can.

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