The City of Kamloops is investigating an attack on coniferous trees in which poison may have been used.
Eleven pine trees were vandalized last week in an Aberdeen green space.
“It’s not right for someone to vandalize public park land,” area resident Ross Spina told KTW.
Spina said he heard a “drilling noise” on Thursday at about 9 p.m. while sitting in the backyard of his home in the Huntleigh Crescent-Hampshire Place neighbourhood. One side of the street borders city green space, which is packed with decades-old growth that provides natural habitat for wildlife in the area. Spina said when he heard the noise, he crouched down and spotted two men with what appeared to be a laser-guided drill. He went to explore, but the men took off.
The next day, Spina and a neighbour who works for the BC Forest Service investigated and found 11 trees had been vandalized. Drill marks punctured the circumference of the trees and it is suspected the holes were filled with some kind of substance to kill the stands.
The city confirmed it has received a complaint about tampering of city trees and a city arborist determined the trees require felling, with dead timber deemed a fire hazard.
It remains unclear who is responsible, leaving Spina to wonder: “Why would you want 11 trees to die?”
One theory is the trees were targeted, having blocked that well-known Aberdeen view from yards backing onto the green space.
City community and protective services director Byron McCorkell said staff are investigating potential violation of the city’s tree protection bylaw. A permit is required before felling stands, with the bylaw objective to preserve trees in the city, whether on public or private property. The city deems trees as an “asset” as they are aesthetically pleasing, improve shade and clean air.
“In an urban environment, to get a tree to grow to a size that provides the shade … it’s not easy to do,” McCorkell said.
The fine for violating the bylaw ranges from between $1,000 to $10,000, in addition to the cost of replacing the trees. In this particular situation, cost of replacing the trees could be pricey, given their maturity. The city investigation remains in the early stages, with staff gathering information with the hopes of determining what happened and who is responsible.
“The community education is that you can’t just go and cut down trees,” McCorkell said. “That’s the way things happen in Kamloops. If someone felt that this was done to try and improve their view, that would really not go very well.”