Opportunity to move forward and heal rifts caused by tree battle

I believe there may be a way to put a positive spin on the unfortunate battle

I believe there may be a way to put a positive spin on the unfortunate battle between citizens who objected to having the James Street bigleaf maple removed and the Islands Savings Commission, ISCC, which is made up of representatives from all our municipal government bodies.

My hope is that all the negativity aroused during the struggle can become a sad blessing, a new and wonderful phrase that I learned recently.

A sad blessing refers to something awful that happens but whose effects eventually result in a situation that is a positive improvement. Readers Digest often carries sad blessings stories about families who become better and stronger after a tragic event occurs in their lives.

While the removal of the Islands Savings Centre bigleaf maple to put up a parking lot isn’t exactly tragic, there are those who will forever mourn their loss of shelter from blazing sun or drenching rain or the peace they found as they sat there under its canopy, calmed by a lullaby of whispering leaves.

Another sad reality is the bitter divisiveness created within the community along with the disillusionment and loss of trust in the integrity of some of the Cowichan Valley’s politicians.

I do not believe that the tree’s roots were dust, as was given out to the newspaper. If it were so, why were its leaves green all summer like all its healthy cousins in the Valley? But that is neither here nor there anymore.

So, how can the sad losses in the Islands Savings Centre parking lot battle become blessings?

The blessing is that the people who tried their best to protect the tree have formed a bond that goes far beyond this sad episode. They are now a strong and united group hoping to help put a tree protection bylaw into the statutes of the District of North Cowichan.

Heritage trees won’t be eliminated just because they stand in the way of a new subdivision, a parking lot or a roundabout. I cannot imagine why anyone on North Cowichan council would resist adding such a bylaw unless there are more tree eliminations on the drawing board.

As for trusting the word of the ISCC, its cooperation with the “Save the Tree” group to create a fitting memorial using some of the maple’s trunk would be a significant step in the right direction.

Let us hope that together at last, all parties will cooperate in good faith as they create a fitting memorial to the tree itself, to the First Nations peoples who knew it as a sapling and to one of Duncan’s pioneer farming families, the Evans, who farmed around it, the sapling that grew to become one of the biggest of its kind on southern Vancouver Island.

Hopefully at least one trunk portion will be artistically mounted with tribute signs in an Islands Savings green space that will provide the blessing of shelter from the sun, the rain and life’s burdens.

We need to move forward from all the disappointments and harsh words to a place of peace and pride.

What could be a better blessing than that?


Kathryn Swan


Cowichan Valley Citizen