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VIDEO: Community celebrates tipsy Oak Bay tree replacement

Couple purchases, donates more than 20 trees to ‘care for the global gardens’

A tree thrives in Oak Bay to honour a woman named Yolanda.

Setting roots near Loon Bay a quite a few years now, it grows as a gift for both community and Vikki Cecchini’s husband, Roberto.

The year after Roberto’s mother passed away, in their home – not far from where the tree now grows – Vikki sought to buy him a gift. Looking for a man who already has all the things he needs, she went looking for a memorial bench program, and came across Oak Bay’s tree program.

“Our garden is full of trees, we don’t have space for more trees,” Vikki said, but Oak Bay had plenty of openings in the neighbourhood.

Yolanda’s tree started a domino effect, with trees stretching across Uplands to honour Roberto’s dad, then two sets of grandparents, after that came Vikki’s family.

VIDEO: Community celebrates leaning Oak Bay tree ahead of removal

Somewhere in the range of 20 trees later, the pair purchased the tall lean oak now replacing its tippy predecessor on Beach Drive not far from Glenlyon Norfolk School.

In April, after decades of decline, the 150-year-old tree with a desperate lean over the public walkway was removed.

“It’s tough being a tree in an urban setting. That tree had a vehicle strike which started its demise,” parks manager Chris Hyde-Lay said during a May 14 celebration of the new tree.

“They are instrumental and really one of the driving forces on urban forest renewal here in the district,” Hyde-Lay said.

Grown from a local acorn, the replacement tree is “an outstanding specimen and it’s going to grow here for a long long time,” he added.

Currently Oak Bay has a mature to overly mature urban forest in need of renewal. The grand keystone trees that serve as the framework are aging. Carnarvon for example has an 18 per cent cover and they’re younger trees, Hyde-Lay said, but they’re also species such as plum and mountain ash with shorter life expectancy.

READ ALSO: Mom brings new toques to Greater Victoria streets to honour her late son

Oak Bay offers a free tree program for residents, in part to achieve the goal laid out in its Urban Forest Strategy to plant 6,000 trees of varying sizes on both public and private land by 2045.

“You may think it’s a little aggressively optimistic, that may be true, but every little bit helps,” Hyde-Lay said.

The Ceccinis are doing their part. A diverse range of trees including dogwoods, oaks, sequoia have all been carefully selected by the experts at the district.

“We have the time, we have the resources, we don’t have the expertise,” Vikki said.

By leaning on the knowledge of the district, they know a solid tree stands a good change of bringing joy to the community. They have no plans to stop. Next up is a replacement tree in a neighbourhood playground.

“We’re here to care for the global gardens,” Vikki said. “We’re custodians.”

READ ALSO: Oak Bay hands out free trees to grow urban forest cover to 40% by 2045

Roberto Cecchini, left, and Vikki Cecchini applaud as parks manager Chris Hyde-Lay explains how a new oak tree replaces the tipsy 150-year-old Garry oak removed from Beach Drive last month. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Roberto Cecchini, left, and Vikki Cecchini framed by branches of the latest tree they’ve covered cost on in Oak Bay. The tree replaces the tipsy 150-year-old Garry oak on Beach Drive. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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