Jill Pemberton is grieving the loss of a large fir near her North Saanich home. She says the tree was a common perch and nesting location for bald eagles. (Courtesy Jill Pemberton)

North Saanich woman laments loss of Douglas fir that once housed eagles

Deep Cove resident wants more protection for local trees

A North Saanich woman wants to see local bylaws offer better tree protection after a popular eagle nesting tree was cut down near her property last week.

For the last five years, the view from Jill Pemberton’s Deep Cove, Downey Road home included a Douglas fir, one she describes as “iconic and majestic” to the landscape.

“At 8 a.m. this morning, the chain saws were roaring and this home to the eagles was taken from them,” she said in an email to Black Press Media on July 24. “I just feel so sad and helpless, that this could possibly happen.”

READ ALSO: Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

It’s unclear if the tree, which sat on a private property on Madrona Drive, actually housed a nest at the time it was felled, but Pemberton says its loss was felt by the big birds, who she claims circled the empty space where they usually perched.

A severed stump is all that remains of a Douglas fir near Jill Pemberton’s North Saanich home. (Courtesy of Jill Pemberton)

“I don’t usually get so emotional about a tree, but this tree was just so alive … it [reminded] me of an Emily Carr painting,” Pemberton said in a phone interview. “It was so iconic and then to have these beautiful eagles living in it and hearing them every morning, that became so alive to me. The eagles were teaching their young how to fly. They’d perch there and they would do a big circle and land back.”

The District of North Saanich’s tree protection bylaw – last updated in 2002 – requires an application for every tree removal and allows on each property, per year, the removal of 25 trees with 20-centimetre diameters or smaller, or five trees with with diameters 20 centimetres or larger.

READ ALSO: Celebration of Life hosted for 29 Victoria trees set to be removed

But according to Meghan Mason, North Saanich communication manager, all the proper permits were acquired before Pemberton’s beloved fir came down.

“The District’s tree removal process was followed and this was an approved tree removal,” Mason said in an email. “If the District was to discover a nest on a tree requested to be removed, the tree would not be approved for removal at that time. District staff would refer to the appropriate governing legislation for that particular situation and direct the homeowner to get the required approvals, depending on the situation.”

But to Pemberton, permits won’t matter when all the trees are gone.

“If everybody can take five trees off every single year and that whole waterfront becomes just houses and that’s all you see, I think that’s wrong,” she said. “There’s got to be a balance of keeping our landscape still natural and beautiful…That was a stunning tree and it’s gone.

“How many more are we going to lose before its all gone?”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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