The fate of Vancouver’s century-old tulip tree will be known on May 31.
Vancouver council is expected to vote on this date on a proposal to redevelop 1245 Harwood Street, a West End property where the deciduous plant is located.
Resident Arne Mooers lives in a townhouse complex adjacent and to the west of this property. In an interview, Mooers told the Straight that he’ll be “very surprised” if councillors don’t take advantage of an opportunity that presented itself during a public hearing on the project on May 18.
Mooers was referring to the appearance of Shaun Wong, owner of 1225 Harwood Street, which is adjacent and east of 1245 Harwood Street.
Forty percent of the tulip tree’s root extends to 1225 Harwood. Staff had previously reported to council that the owner of the property didn’t commit to help protect the tree.
But Wong told council on May 18 that he and his family actually love this tree, and are willing to cooperate to preserve it.
That surprised many councillors who may have thought that they cannot prevent the tree from getting chopped down.
“This gives the current council a reasonable respite and a political way out of what is a real hot potato,” Mooers said. “This gives them more time to think about what they really want to do on this site and on the West End.”
Mooers also emphasized that 11,500 West End residents have signed a petition asking the city to stop rezonings in the neighbourhood until a community plan is in place.
In a separate interview, resident Stephen Bohus told the Straight that council may also hear from a person who was a close friend of the previous owner of 1245 Harwood Street.
According to Bohus, this particular individual has personal knowledge that the former owner had expressed wishes to preserve the tree as well as the Victorian-style mansion on the lot.
Bing Thom Architects has proposed to move the heritage house within the same property, cut down the tree, and put up an 18-storey condo building.
Vancouver councillor David Cadman will not make it to the May 31 meeting. He told the Straight that he will be disappointed if his colleagues will not act to have the project re-evaluated in light of Wong’s statement to council.
“It really behooves us when you a have 110-year record tree to say, ”˜Are we on a green agenda here and does saving this tree mean anything?’ or just whack the tree, spend a lot of money moving the house 23 feet, and give 18 storeys of height,” Cadman said by phone. “It makes a lot more sense to me anyway to try and go back and see if we can figure out a way to save the tree, save the house, and work with the adjacent lot to build some low-rise density.”