Storm’s impact on Chilliwack’s trees still being assessed

Most stumps will be replaced once ground softens up, Mayor Gaetz says

The plum trees along Yale Road in Chilliwack were the hardest hit during last week’s blast of snow, ice and wind.

While early numbers suggested about 200 city trees were heavily damaged, Mayor Sharon Gaetz said “the number of reports of trees damaged are way up.”

It’s going to take at least another two weeks to clean up from the storm, as the city’s arborist assesses the damage.

In addition to the plum trees on Yale, other areas hard hit were the Garrison Crossing residential area and the UFV campus on Yale Road.

“Some of the trees appear to only have broken limbs,” said Jamie Legatt, the city’s communications manager. “If that’s the case they will try to prune them. But some of them have structural cracks that travel down the trunk.”

Most of the removed trees will be replaced, with the exception of those along Yale Road by UFV. Those trees were already competing for light due to overcrowding.

While Gaetz agrees it’s hard to see the plum trees damaged and removed, she said the city has a plan in place to keep neighbourhoods full of colour.

“We hold great value in trees in the City of Chilliwack,” she said. “Our arborist is working really hard and we will do our best to save them. They’re so beautiful and they make such a statement in the spring,” she said. The city is learning that it’s not a good idea to plant all of the same species of trees in a row.

“If something goes wrong with one of them, it goes wrong with all of them,” Gaetz added, including pest infestations and diseases. The city had already removed some plum trees in certain areas, such as Airport Road, and replaced them with trees that complement the beauty of the plum trees.

“They (staff) thought ‘let’s have a show of colour in every season,’” Gaetz said.

As for the trees hanging in the delicate balance of nature right now, city staff will attempt to save as many as possible. The ones being removed are subsequently chipped and sent to the Parr Road green waste site.

Gaetz said that while the full cost of the storm’s havoc won’t be known until the clean up is complete, the price tag on a replacement tree for the city is about $300. The replacement of the trees will take place once the ground has softened up more, into the spring.

jpeters@theprogress.com

 

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