Palm trees are not native to the Capital Region. Everyone knows that.
The simple fact these non-invasive species can grow and thrive here is a testament to the mild weather we have. And that pleasant climate is a big drawing card for the area’s tourism industry.
We were left shaking our head this week when Oak Bay council rejected a request by Oak Bay Tourism to hold its popular palm tree sale on the lawn of the municipal hall. Building on the region’s unofficial title as the Palm Tree Capital of Canada, the event would have thrust the area into the regional spotlight and possibly beyond, given the reach of social media.
The decision, which councillors based on a preference to support events that help preserve Oak Bay’s native ecosystem, effectively killed the sale. Tourism reps, hoping to raise money for efforts to sell the municipality to visitors – not to mention a local Scout troop – said holding it at a low-profile, private site would be pointless.
The popular event, ruined mainly by weather last year, has routinely attracted people from around Greater Victoria. It is being effectively kiboshed by people who are well-meaning, but who are missing the point, which is to have a little fun and bask in the fact that we can add a bit of the tropics to our gardens, unlike most Canadian locales east of Abbotsford.
A Garry oak seedling sale, an alternative suggested by one councillor, won’t attract the attention of people outside the region, never mind residents in neighbouring municipalities. Protecting the Garry oak population should be the job of parks departments, which can determine ideal spots to plant them.
It’s admirable to see politicians stick to their principles. But in this case, Oak Bay representatives have taken a step backward and said to the region, “there’s no fun allowed behind the Tweed Curtain.”