The East 6th Ave Elms
One of Vancouver’s longest stretches of mature Elm trees is on East 6th Avenue, starting at Woodland Drive, crossing Commercial Drive and continuing over a kilometre to Nanaimo Street. The stretch comprises 130 elms spanning nine city blocks. These Elm trees have lined these streets for 70 years, and make up one of East Vancouver’s most dramatic high canopy streetscapes. “These trees are spectacular, absolutely the best thing about the street,” said local resident Cindy Brenneis.
Saving the Elms – A Community Comes Together
In early 2011, the Vancouver Park Board announced that 30 of these trees would be removed, due to their “poor structure” and interference with overhead lines. Residents expressed dismay, insisting that the removal of the trees would drastically change the look and feel of the street. They mounted a campaign to stop the plan, setting up a facebook page, placing “We Love Our Trees” ribbons around the trunks and expressing their opposition to the Park Board and media outlets. The Vancouver Park Board responded by hiring an independent arborist for a second opinion on the East 6th Elms, later announcing that the number of trees that needed to be removed had been reduced to six. A joint working group of area residents and Park Board staff was established to develop a plan for the East 6th Elms together. The collaboration features over 50 new Elm trees planted along East 6th Avenue, and a management plan to preserve and reinvigorate the canopy of Elms.
Since 2011, a few trees have fallen during windstorms, and community members continue to seek re-planting of the elms. Read more here.
History of Vancouver Boulevard Trees
- Feb, 1909: The Park Board is given responsibility for boulevard tree plantings, with no funding arrangement specified.
- January, 1912. The Park Board initiates a policy that trees will only go to property owners whose properties have sidewalks and are curbed, leading to the imbalance in favour of the western half of the city.
- 1932: Relief workers aid park board to plant over 64 miles of city boulevards in two years.
- 1934: CPR and BC Electric take over the pruning of boulevard trees as the Park Board had no funds due to the Depression.
- Save the Elms of East 6th website.
- Save the Elms of East 6th facebook page.
- Frances Bula. “Residents fight to save ‘problematic’ elms.” Globe and Mail. March 4, 2011.
- Andrea Woo. “Plans to fell trees upset residents; City says elms interfere with overhead lines, and will be removed in mid-March.” Vancouver Sun. March 3, 2011.
- Neal Hall. “Half of elms set for removal should be saved.” Vancouver Sun. March 19, 2011
- Heritage Vancouver. “Historic Street Trees.” 2010.
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