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HomeBusinessVancouver Park Board releases first Stanley Park logging stats 

Vancouver Park Board releases first Stanley Park logging stats 

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Bob Mackin

Crews cut down almost 2,700 trees in Stanley Park during the month of January alone, according to records released under the freedom of information law.

Crews load logged Stanley Park trees at a makeshift yard in the Prospect Point Picnic Area (Bob Mackin photo)

Last November, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation announced 160,000 trees would be removed due to wildfire and safety risks caused by the Hemlock looper moth infestation and drought.

The monthly report, submitted by main contractor B.A. Blackwell and Associates, showed 2,159 of the trees, measuring more than 20 centimetres in diameter, were cut around the Stanley Park Causeway. Between 98% and 100% of falling in the area was completed by the end of the month, but tree and debris removal was finished in only one of the four designated quadrants. 

Elsewhere, crews cut 287 trees around Prospect Point and 247 around the Stanley Park Railway. 

In total, Blackwell subcontractors cut down 2,693 trees from Jan. 1-31. The report said that 349 cubic metres of logs were hauled away, but it did not provide the number of individual logs or disclose the end users. A subcontractor was photographed March 21 hauling at least 50 logs, including some that were a century-old, from Stanley Park while heading east on Georgia near Granville. 

The Park Board has yet to release the figures for October to December or February and March.

The January report said there were 10 climbers/fallers, five equipment operators and eight brush clearing traffic control persons working on the project. The only major incident was on Jan. 12, when a forwarder broke down “for a short time” on the Prospect Point Trail. A mechanic was able to move it to the processing compound — near the Prospect Point Picnic Area — before the weekend. 

The contract with Blackwell also requires the company to notify the Park Board if they discover any archaeologically sensitive material or evidence of culturally modified trees. But a response from the city’s freedom of information office said that, as of Feb. 15, “the Park Board project team and archaeologist have not received any notification from B.A. Blackwell as per the requirements referenced in the request.”

Stanley Park logging hauler Skytech (Mackin)

The Park Board is spending almost $7 million on the operation. Top city hall bureaucrats approved the first phase last August and recommended the emergency, no-bid contract with North Vancouver’s Blackwell while city council and park board politicians were on summer holiday. 

Blackwell’s subcontractors include Edith Lake Falling Ltd. and SkyTech Yarding Ltd. of Squamish and Swatez Forestry of Nanaimo. 

It took until February for the Park Board to release a copy of the Blackwell report behind the operation. 

Titled “Stanley Park Hemlock Looper Impact and Wildfire Risk Assessment,” the 37-page report to Joe McLeod, the city’s manager of urban forestry, is dated Jan. 24 — almost two months after the Park Board announced the operation to cut a quarter of Stanley Park’s trees. 

Blackwell reported that pest infestation killed or severely defoliated 20,300 trees with a diameter greater than 20 centimetres and 166,000 trees that are 20 cm or less in diameter. A majority of trees affected were western hemlock, but Douglas firs and western red cedars had been impacted to a lesser extent. 

Blackwell recommended emergency work between October and March because of decreased public use and to avoid bird-breeding season. 

Norm Oberson, owner of Arbutus Tree Service and a member of the Trees of Vancouver Society board, fears that the risk of wildfire is being overstated in order to expedite bulk tree removal. He said that heightens the likelihood of errantly cutting healthy trees.

Vancouver software designer Michael Robert Caditz formed the ad hoc Save Stanley Park group and is seeking legal advice aimed at applying for a court injunction to stop whatever logging work is left. 

The Park Board has said it plans to replant and regenerate the forest. 

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