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Landmark tree dropped, marina decision looms

Peter Scheiler s upset about the loss of this massive cedar. - Andrew Leong
Peter Scheiler s upset about the loss of this massive cedar.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

The Cowichan Valley Regional District board decides tomorrow evening whether or not to move the Mill Bay Marina project forward, but one thing is certain — the site will not include the massive Western red cedar that rooted there some 400 years ago.

The tree, which was 24-feet in diameter, was felled last week.

A group of Mill Bay residents who had called on the project’s developers to save the ancient cedar was dismayed by the news.

But the project’s managing director, Duane Shaw, promises the timber will be used for park benches, signage and other highlight pieces at the marina and townhouse development site.

“At the end of the day, the tree had to come down to make way for parking and the roadway for the marina project,” Shaw said. “We did have an arborist go over it, and the report from the arborist said the tree had rot, and had to come down.”

A large branch was blown from the tree last winter, and Shaw said it was prudent to protect the public from further lost tree limbs.

“The decision was not made lightly; we didn’t flippantly do this,” Shaw added. “We definitely put some thought in it, but there was no way around it.”

Others disagree.

Mill Bay resident Peter Scheiler, who says he’s in favour of the marina project but wanted to protect the tree, called chopping the cedar a “very poor decision.”

“The tree came down before the final (CVRD) decision was even made, which is very disrespectful, I think,” he said. “It was a nuisance to the townhouse builder, but this tree could have been saved. It’s very disappointing.”

Meanwhile, CVRD directors will tonight discuss third-reading approval to rezone the site, which would pave the way for the townhouse development.

The 14 homes are being proposed to pay for the new marina, which will replace the old structure destroyed by a storm in the spring of 2010.

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