The “North Vancouver Tree Massacre”

Anyone who cuts down trees faces public humiliation

Nice view, shame about the trees

Chris Cheadle/Corbis

People in B.C.’s Lower Mainland take their trees seriously. When officials prepared to cut down a single hollow stump in Stanley Park a few years ago, residents raised $100,000 to reinforce it with metal. That arboreal obsession also explains the latest outrage to grip the city: someone took a chainsaw to a swath of trees in a wealthy mountainside enclave of North Vancouver because, it seems, the cedars were obstructing their view of the ocean.

Dubbed the “North Vancouver Tree Massacre” by one local TV station, and making the front pages of the local press, the incident saw roughly 35 trees felled, some of them second-growth cedars up to 60 years old. The trees were located in Capilano Park, and the cleanup costs are likely to hit $50,000 for the city. The RCMP is investigating, and the culprit, believed to be a resident in the neighbourhood where homes regularly fetch upwards of $2 million, will undoubtedly face steep fines.

That punishment may turn out to be nothing compared to the wrath of Vancouverites. In a region where homeowners are barred from removing trees from their own property, let alone public parks, those who engage in arboricide typically endure harsh public humiliation. Last year, Ratana and Arran Stephens, owners of Nature’s Path organic cereal, were pilloried when it was discovered they’d cut down several trees on their own property without a permit. Five years earlier, a 72-year-old woman who poisoned trees to get a better view of the ocean had to sell her home because of the backlash—some people threw eggs and dog feces at her house. Whoever cut down the trees in North Vancouver is likely to realize that some views, no matter how grand, just aren’t worth it.




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The “North Vancouver Tree Massacre”

  1. Have there not been landslides in North Van? Might explain why people are rather tetchy about keeping trees in the ground.

    • No landslides in the area of North Van described in the article.  The one big landslide we had about 5 years ago was in the Seymour area.

  2. A fitting punishment might be having the windows that benefited from the tree removal painted over for say the 60 years it takes to regrow the trees?

  3. There are two different issues here.  First, there are people who are cutting down trees on public property for their personal benefit.  Second, there are very restrictive by-laws regarding the cutting of trees on private property in some municipalities in the Lower Mainland.  The first issue is pretty straightforward – it’s selfish vandalism of public property.  The second issue is where it gets weird.  People act as though they have a right to keep trees on private property, even though they bear none of the costs.  This is a bit much to take as a property owner responsible for cleaning up tree debris, assuming the hazard of the tree coming down and damaging property, irrespective of any concerns regarding blocking the view or shading the house.  

    •  Got to agree with you there Walrus
      The slayer of public trees needs to be dealt with harshly.
      As for trees on private land, that is the land owner’s concern. I regularly remove trees from properties because they were too densely planted originally or they sustained damage in storms etc. Some preventative work is also carried out and I have removed trees because there was a good chance the next storm would blow them onto the house.
      So I would also say the self righteous creeps and flingers of dog excrement and eggs need to be dealt with too. Either that or they chip in for the rebuilding and rehousing when disaster happens.

  4. First off, “Stanley Park” has nothing to do with those crazy North Vancouver sub-division developments.
    Most of these homes should never have been built on the North face mountain, let alone scrapeing all the trees and undergrowth off of the North Van mountain-side. It’s a disaster that’s going to happen, again, and again, with more mudslides, just like 5 years ago.
    One really well-placed earthquake and that whole face will look like Mt. St Helens did -barren.

    Greedy Land/Real Estate development is completely responsible for all this mess.
    Unfortunately being rich does not mean you are smart. And, Insurance doesn’t cover “stupid”.
    A disastrous Nantucket sleighride down a mountain is NOT worth that so-called “million dollar” view, which btw, for over half-the-year you never get anyway, because of constant, constant rain, fog, clouds, …

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