(Image / Google Maps)

People familiar with Dallas Road may soon lose a historic natural landmark, according to the City of Victoria.

A contorted and windswept chestnut tree which has stood on the 600-block of Dallas Road near Fonyo Beach for over a century will be removed this August to make way for the city’s Wastewater Treatment Project.

The tree’s removal is an unexpected shock for some local residents, like former city councillor Pamela Madoff, who had hoped the tree would be preserved during construction.

“I think [the tree’s] unusual and contorted form has created something of a landmark,” Madoff told Victoria Buzz.

“It’s reflective of its location and the gales coming off the sea. I think it’s something locals and visitors have really responded to.”

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The tree has had many nicknames over the years, according to Madoff, with the most recent being the “Harry Potter Tree” which describes its strange and bewitching appearance.

Other names for the decades-old tree ⁠— which the city has archival photographs of dating back to the 1920s ⁠— include the “Duck Tree”, which children would call out while they ducked underneath its branches, says Madoff.

Photographs from the Victoria’s archives are below:

(Image / City of Victoria Archives)
(Image / City of Victoria Archives)

Community input

The tree’s scheduled removal is surprising some community members, as residents had mentioned their concern over preserving the tree during public consultation meetings with the city.

“It’s importance was pointed out to CRD and city staff when the route was being determined down Dallas Road,” said Madoff.

“The big concern was parking lost along Dallas Road, but at the same time this tree was brought up in particular because of its importance. I remember city staff and CRD saying that they would try to accommodate it.”

“So it’s a real shock to see it coming down from a sign that is buried behind construction [equipment].”

“Trade off are required…”

While the city always tries to preserve as many trees as possible, some trade offs are required, a municipal spokesperson told Victoria Buzz.

While plans were being finalized for the Dallas Road portion of the CRD Wastewater Treatment Project, a series of arborists were hired to examine trees in the area.

During this examination, officials determined that the historic “Harry Potter Tree” was in poor health and that its removal would be the in the best interest of the community.

“Trade offs are required – in this case the option was to save the healthy mature elm or the windswept tree on the water side,” said the city.

“The ‘windswept tree’ has internal decay, damage from vehicle strikes, and is generally in poor condition.”

City officials also note that for every one tree removed by the CRD, two new ones are planted to replace it.

Background

Construction along Dallas Road is related to the CRD Wastewater Treatment Project, which first launched in October, 2018.

See also: This 940-metre sewage pipeline in James Bay will be pulled into the ocean this week (PHOTOS)(2018)

The project includes the installation of a wastewater pipe that will connect the new Clover Point Pump Station with the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant underneath Victoria.

After construction is complete, the affected stretch of Dallas Road will be re-paved and redesigned to include new line painting, three new crosswalks, new pathway lighting, wayfinding signage, bike racks, plantings, fencing between several points of dog off-leash areas, and a bike dismount area.

Once the road has been re-paved, a new 2.8 km protected bike path will also be built along the street between Ogden Point and Clover Point.

Victoria Buzz has reached out to the City of Victoria for comment on the tree’s removal.

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