Russian olive tree to be removed

A recent Invermere council meeting reveals bad news about a 73-year-old Russian olive tree in Cenotaph Park.

  • Apr. 26, 2011 12:00 p.m.
The 73-year-old Russian olive tree in Invermere stands in Cenotaph Park.

The 73-year-old Russian olive tree in Invermere stands in Cenotaph Park.

A sentimental piece of downtown Invermere is coming to the end of its days. The District of Invermere council and staff have received a danger tree assessment from Green Leaf Tree Services indicating the Russian Olive tree located in Cenotaph Park is a high risk of failure and is a liability to damage property or persons.

Serious questions surrounding the tree were amplified on July 23, 2010, when a large limb on the south side failed.

The failure revealed a substantial amount of rot which compromised the structural roots on the east and west side of the tree. There remains evidence of one larger structural root on the south side of the tree, which is attached to a limb, which is physically separating from the tree.

The failure happened after cables and rods were installed to support a large limb, which had split apart on the North side of the tree in 2009.

As part of the assessment from Green Leaf Tree Services staff was informed that the loss of structural roots on the tension side of the tree (against prevailing winds) and obvious defects in a high target area lend the tree to being a much higher risk.

All members of council at the regular council meeting on April 12 said that it is a tough decision to have the tree removed but there is no other choice at this point.

“This feels like a conversation to put down a pet. It is a living thing and there is a real attachment to it,” Mayor Gerry Taft said.

This was followed up by councillor Bob Campsall, who explained that when he was young, the tree was still too small to climb in. “I too grow attached to trees,” Campsall said. “It is a gorgeous tree that has been an asset to the community. It is unfortunate that it has to go.”

It was explained at the meeting that a tree like this in an urban area has a usual lifespan of 50 years. The tree in Invermere is now in its 73rd year.

As for what will happen once the tree is removed, council decided on the recommendation of staff to have another tree put back on the site.

Taft also said that he had been approached with the idea to let local artisans create something out of the old tree so that it can live on in a different way.