A Nanaimo homeowner will be filling a void left in his yard by a B.C. Hydro blunder.
Jayson Deleskie and his family came back from holidays earlier this month to discover a maple tree had been cut down and left in chunks in their yard at the corner of Fifth Street and Bruce Avenue.
“It didn’t make for a very good evening, coming home from a vacation to see it,” Deleskie said.
The tree, which had sprouted into several trunks, provided shade and privacy to the home, located at a high traffic intersection in Harewood.
Trunks had not been cut down to firewood lengths, but were left strewn in pieces a few metres long.
Deleskie, who had not been contacted by B.C. Hydro warning the tree would be trimmed, had no idea who had cut it. The city knew nothing about it when he called, but it was a representative there who suggested he call a 1-800 customer service number at B.C. Hydro to voice his concerns.
A B.C. Hydro arborist and utility specialist contacted Deleskie Wednesday, admitting B.C. Hydro was at fault since it was one of the utility’s subcontractors who went on the property and cut down the tree.
“He was out of town when I called, so it was a couple of days before he could get back to me,” Deleskie said.
If a tree threatening the operation or integrity of a power line is on public property or a road allowance, B.C. Hydro will proceed with trimming or cutting down a tree, but if the tree is on private property the utility has to contact the owner and make arrangements to proceed, which did not happen in this case.
“It was a mistake by a contractor,” said Ted Olynyk, B.C. Hydro spokesman.
Olynyk did not know why the contractor opted to cut down the entire tree instead of just trimming its branches, but it was likely a decision based on how the tree could impact power lines over the long term.
“If we come to a situation where it looks like a tree will compromise the integrity of the line then we have to remove the tree,” he said. “It could be a situation of years of trimming. We can’t just keep coming back. It’s a cost factor and maples do grow extremely fast. We found that a few years ago we had situations where maples were growing as much as six metres in a year.”
B.C. Hydro also cannot remove wood from a tree cut on private property.
“We don’t own the wood,” Olynyk said. “We’re not in the wood business. If a tree falls during a storm people shouldn’t just go assuming it’s on Crown land. That could very well be private property.”
Deleskie said he was told B.C. Hydro contractors will be returning to the site to saw the tree trunks into firewood lengths and grind down the stump to prevent the tree growing back. He has also been given vouchers to purchase new trees and advice from the arborist on what kinds of trees will be best for his application.
Deleskie said B.C. Hydro remedied the situation, but believes the public should know what to do and who to call should a similar situation happen to anyone else.
“They’ve come, they’ve responded,” Deleskie said. “So at least if it happens to other people they’ll know how to get in contact with somebody.”