New power lines will merge at a telephone pole where a heritage maple tree once stood outside 816 Carbonate St. Photo: Jensen Edwards

Heritage tree torn down, to be replaced with telephone pole

Underground cable option would be too expensive, says city.


Nelson Star

A new four-unit apartment building in Uphill has forced the city to cut down a neighbouring heritage maple tree.

Late-risers in the neighbourhood woke up Thursday to a rumbling woodchipper and whining chainsaws as a city crew made quick work of the task, hardly leaving a stump behind by 2pm. The city had planned to cut it down more than two weeks ago, but residents’ protests prompted forced the delay.

The tree that stretched across from 816 Carbonate St. to shade the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road will make way for a telephone pole to connect the new building to existing circuits.

After considering an underground route for electrical and telecom cables, the city decided that it would be cheaper to go above ground. Officials said that replacing the tree with a service pole was the only feasible route.

“The underground option [would have had] the most impact to residents and [have been] the most expensive as well,” said supervisor of Parks and Public Works for Nelson Craig Stanley in an email.

To run the cables underground, Stanley said, would mean having to tear up a section of the street as well as a rock retaining wall. Cost for underground construction would be wildly variable and risk stretching far beyond initial estimates, Stanley warned.

Regardless, some neighbours say that cutting down the ranging maple will have a negative effect on the street. Hanging on the tree on Wednesday was a cardboard version of Dr. Seuss’s most famous environmentalist, the Lorax. The character, painted by a local child, held a sign that read:

“I am the Lorax and I speak for the trees, and Uphill! This community […] doesn’t want the city to cut down this tree! For it’s [sic] shade provides comfort and safety as well as good growing conditions. […] Put that telephone pole on another plot of grass because trees need to live. This tree has lived here for years upon years, so don’t end that now! – Lorax.”

By citing the maple’s age, Uphill’s resident Lorax is appealing to Carbonate Street’s official heritage designation, in part thanks to the “mature boulevard trees” that line the road.

When another Uphill heritage tree was slated to be cut down in 2006 by the city, neighbours rallied together, vowing to chain themselves to the black walnut tree in question. The “doughnut tree,” whose branches part through the centre to allow for electrical cables to run through, still stands, 12 years later at the intersection of Cedar St. and Mill St.

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