Ladysmith is working along with a certified arborist on how to properly manage the tree canopy in a park near Ryan Place after years of negotiating deals with residents.
The 100 or so Douglas fir, western and red cedar, alders and big leaf maple trees located in the green space between Arbutus Crescent, Bertram Place and Ryan Place have been logged or topped for the past 30 years to maintain a balance of allowing homeowners a view of the water while ensuring privacy for the others.
Several agreements related to maintaining the viewscape for residents on Ryan Place have been in place, including everything from a parcel tax from 2006 to 2008, to four homeowners paying to have trees trimmed in 2010 while the town picked up the remainder of the bill.
“I think as things change and the original owners of these neighbourhood agreements pass on or sell their properties that we can’t have the expectation that we’re going to go back to community members and say you manage our parks and maintain the trees that border your property,” said Mayor Aaron Stone at last Monday’s city council meeting.
An arborist initially assessed the 250 metre long site with an average width of 15 metres and found that because trees were topped in the past they are in poor condition and “maintaining the trees at the existing height is critical because in many cases trees left unmaintained become hazardous,” according to a staff report.
“It is a city park and we’re responsible for these trees,” said city manager Guillermo Ferrero.
Town staff are ideally looking for a multi-year action plan that would come back to council once it’s been vetted by the Parks and Recreation Committee as well as the Invasive Species Committee.
Clayton Postings said it’s no longer a practice to top trees but it’s still the town’s responsibility to manage the area appropriately.
“If the arborist determines it has been topped previously and it needs to maintain we would continue to be required to top that tree for the health and safety of the tree,” he said.
Part of the arborist’s work will include performing a danger tree assessment and recommending any trees that should be removed.
The report will also include a pruning cycle to retain the height, trees requiring pruning and areas requiring the removal of invasive species.
Stone said the town would then look to replace trees that are removed with those that are “more fitting to the park.”
“I would say that strategically long term I think it’s important for us to look at especially that linear park and the area we’re talking about and say if those trees have to come down take them down, take them out and the plantings would be something more suitable that wouldn’t require topping,” Mayor Aaron Stone said.
Future plans for the park include a connecting trail to the Holland Creek Development.
Councillor Rob Hutchins said community engagement on managing the area has been good over the years but it was time to look at the cost of the town maintaining the canopy.
“To me the approach…. is getting someone to really take a look at it and see what it’s going to cost to maintain it in a healthy way is the most important thing because I don’t think we’ve ever done that before, ” he said.