LETTER – Kamloops’ heritage urban tree canopy being lost to development

(Image: Keiran Rankin)

Walking or cycling down Royal Avenue on Kamloops North Shore you’ve likely noticed a forest grove in the city – an oasis of greenery and birdsong.

The property along the 100 block of Royal Ave is essentially an arboretum with its huge spruce, oak, golden locust, mountain ash, and more. Dozens of trees in total, some as much as 100 years old.

It is the greatest concentration of meaningful urban tree canopy outside of a city park on the North Shore and a sight to behold. Soon the property will be clearcut to make way for ARPA’s new Thompson Landing development, though.

The developers claim that the trees will be replaced, but the smaller mostly ornamental varieties that their landscaping plan calls for will never replace the mature trees that exist there now, even if you could wait 100 years.

Trees like these are practicably irreplaceable. The dense canopy of leaves provides a cool refuge in the otherwise hot and dusty city and the buildings that replace it will rely on huge air conditioning units instead, sucking up energy and further driving our downward cycle into global warming.

The city of Kamloops should enact a municipal tree bylaw like Vancouver in order to protect the few large heritage trees that we have. There, you can be certain at least a couple of the massive oaks along the fence line would be saved, protected behind an orange construction fence.

It is cynical that the municipality touts its plan to grow our urban canopy, giving out $50 tree coupons by the thousands, and yet all around the city, big trees are falling to chainsaws and backhoes with every fresh development. Often this is at the city’s own behest where no variances are given for construction setbacks to protect existing trees.

Even more ironically, the city’s new North Shore Master plan identifies this location as the potential site for a “River House” interpretive nature centre – this urban grove boarding the river would certainly be an ideal spot for that, but the ambitious North Shore plan is shown again to be aspirational at best.

At this time of year, the grove is bursting with life, a last holdout in an urban desert. I suggest you go for a walk along this section of the rivers trail and see it for yourself while you still can, ’cause next spring all that will be left are stumps.

North Shore Resident

About Mel Rothenburger (9641 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on LETTER – Kamloops’ heritage urban tree canopy being lost to development

  1. It is encouraging to read these comments. I would like to see more comments… if you’ve read this far, you care enough to add your voice. 3 or 4 voices are not enough – be brave; be heard!

  2. This is certainly as bad as it gets . This city is run by hypocrites who have no other values than the dollar. It is just disgusting tom hear city tree people talk about preserving the “urban forest” and then see some D/S in planning or other dept throw that down the toilet. If councel has nothing to say about stopping this then they should be replaced in the next election by people who understand the other values of OLD GROWTH that cannot be replaced. Many other “progressive” cities have heritage tree registries and it should be so here.

  3. Every time I drive by the property mentioned, I marvel at the height, diversity and health of those trees. I envy the folks who are lucky enough to live under and near them and am horrified that the city is allowing them to be cut down. A huge number of trees are being chopped down on the North shore to make room for “densification” with the excuse that the trees are in poor condition. I agree our city has to take steps to identify and preserve our “old growth” trees but will they? Taking down trees so they can cram more people in is not environmental stewardship.

  4. Nice letter. Too bad the City under Trawin and Christian (nor any of the past mayors in recent memory) are listening nor care. As a long time resident and ISA-certified arborist and active practitioner I have sent dozens of scholarly and other relevant articles to Trawin, the mayor and to council and NOTHING changes. Then they pay uncertified contractors to supposedly enhance the urban canopy and the dreadful results are out there for any discerning eye to see…dismal at its best!

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