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HomeBusinessPark board says it netted only $30,000 from Stanley Park log sales

Park board says it netted only $30,000 from Stanley Park log sales

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Bob Mackin

Between October and March, crews logged more than 7,200 trees in Stanley Park, a fraction of the 160,000 that the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation said would be removed due to the Hemlock looper moth infestation.

Stanley Park entrance on West Georgia (Mackin)

The Park Board is spending almost $7 million on the operation.

Reports by contractor B.A. Blackwell and Associates, obtained under the freedom of information law, showed 3,294 trees greater than 20 centimetres in diameter were logged and 3,035 under 20 cm between Oct. 3, 2023 and Feb. 29, 2024. Additionally, 118 loads of brush and 47 loads of logs were removed during the five months. Another 872 trees were logged in March.

Total volume of logs removed during the five-month period was 2,214 cubic metres. Another 742 cubic metres were taken in March, for a total of nearly 3,000 cubic metres in 63 loads.

“The total net revenue generated from the logs is $30,069.77, after paying hauling costs of $72,275.68,” said a memo from Park Board general manager Steve Jackson to Park Board commissioners. 

Work was conducted over 67 hectares of the park, a quarter of the park’s forested areas. A load of firewood was also transferred to the Vancouver Police Department’s On the Land Cultural Training Program. 

Jackson’s memo said almost 4% of fir and cedar logs, or 105 cubic metres, were set aside for the first nations. “Delivery of this material is still being coordinated and will be paid out of the remaining net revenue.”

Thirty-nine trees were reserved for the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh first nations, who received delivery of six loads of firewood.

The tops or limbs of 19 cedar trees over 100 cm diameter were cut “due to poor and hazardous conditions.”

Planting of 25,000 seedlings took place in March and April, including western red cedar, Douglas fir, grand fir, Sitka spruce and red alder. 

Removal of logs felled across six hectares was deferred to fall 2024, which also delays replanting in those areas.

Stanley Park logging hauler Skytech (Mackin)

Jackson’s memo said crews will continue to deal with hazard trees during the summer months and the city is considering bids on the next phase of work. Tendering closed March 14. 

“The scope will address priority treatments in forest areas at the Aquarium, Brockton Point, Chickadee Trail, and a portion of the seawall west of Lion’s Gate Bridge,” the memo said. 

Top city hall bureaucrats approved the first phase last August behind closed doors 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 finally release a copy of the Blackwell report behind the operation. In December, the freedom of information office at city hall sent a $450 invoice to a reporter seeking the arborist’s report, tree inventory and tree removal plan. The office later admitted the tree inventory and tree removal plan did not exist. 

Titled “Stanley Park Hemlock Looper Impact and Wildfire Risk Assessment,” Blackwell’s 37-page report to Joe McLeod, the city’s manager of urban forestry, was 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 cm 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-nesting season. 

Norm Oberson, owner of Arbutus Tree Service and a member of the Trees of Vancouver Society board, said the risk of wildfire was overstated in order to expedite bulk tree removal. He said that heightened 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. 

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