Victoria city council is considering restrictions on pollinating and fragrant trees near playgrounds and downtown. (Don Denton/VICTORIA NEWS)

Victoria considers limiting trees that cause allergy flareups

City investigating low pollen and fragrance-free trees near playgrounds

The City of Victoria is looking at restrictions on the planting of pollinating trees to alleviate reactions by people with allergies.

On Thursday council asked staff to report back on options and the potential cost of adding fragrance-free and low pollen plants in the city, especially around playgrounds. The discussion was referred from Tuesday when the city’s parks department gave a budget presentation.

Coun. Charlayne Thornton Joe brought a motion forward stemming from conversations at the city’s accessibility working group. The idea, she said, has come up frequently in their meetings.

“I don’t think we’re going to get to the point that it’s going to be throughout the city, but perhaps [we could] highlight a playground area,” she said. “I think we need to start to add that consideration.”

Coun. Ben Isitt said he’d like to see a report on how to balance the concerns of accessibility with having enough pollinating trees.

Thornton Joe first brought up the issue of allergen-friendly trees, in the context of a new downtown plan, at the Oct. 26 committee of the whole meeting. In an interview that day, she said allergies are an accessibility barrier to some members of the public.

“Whether it’s pollen, whether it’s things in cleaning products, it can affect them … [and] trigger … respiratory or nasal issues,” she said, adding it can be difficult for people with allergies to enjoy public spaces.

Placing high-fragrant or high pollen-count trees next to a playground might not be a good idea, she added, if it meant children with allergies could be excluded from playing there.

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