Vancouver’s century-old tulip tree could be saved after all from a developer’s chainsaw.
That is if councillors seize what appears to be the game-changing opportunity provided to them by Shaun Wong.
Wong and his family own 1225 Harwood Street, the property adjacent to 1245 Harwood Street, where the more than 100-year-old tulip tree is located.
Forty percent of the tulip tree’s root bulb is at 1225 Harwood Street, and according to staff, the property owners did not make a commitment to help protect the tree.
Based on this point reported by staff, council decided in June 2010 not to designate the tulip tree, which is the tallest of its kind in Western Canada, as a heritage resource.
Now, Bing Thom Architects is proposing to chop the tree, adjust the location of a heritage house that is also located at 1245 Harwood Street, and put up an 18-storey luxury condo tower.
At a public hearing on May 17, councillor George Chow said that the tree seems to be a “goner”.
But then, Wong entered the picture.
Appearing at another public hearing by council on May 19, Wong stated that he and his family are, in fact, willing to cooperate to preserve the tree.
“I’m open to protecting the tree,” said Wong, who related that his family had owned 1225 Harwood Street since the 1960s.
He further stated: “My family loves this tree.”
Wong added that he made no deal with anyone before because the city couldn’t give him a guarantee that his family will be given consideration if the time comes for the Wongs to redevelop their own property.
Wong also recalled to councillors that he gave his word that he will help protect the tree, but this wasn’t accepted.
He said that city staff wanted him to put his promise in writing, but staff in return won’t provide him a written pledge to help his family.
Wong also said that he is open to the idea of a joint development with owners of 1245 Harwood Street, a move that will preserve not only the tulip tree but also the heritage house.
Under current circumstances, the owners of 1245 Harwood Street can chop the tree down, demolish the property, and put up an 11-storey residential building without requiring council’s approval.
Council is expected to address the matter regarding 1245 Harwood Street on May 31.