Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Prince Rupert's Cherry Blossom Tree Manifesto

The destruction of a stand of Cherry Blossom Trees downtown has
become a social media discussion topic that has lasted for a number of days

After a weekend of social media outrage over the extreme pruning of a stand of Cherry Trees on the property of the Department of Fisheries downtown, Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain issued a lengthy statement on the topic on Monday, impressing on the public how the blame for the situation rests with Federal officials, seemingly far from the local offices that are found in the city.

Taking to his Facebook page (a location which channelled much in the way of anger over the weekend following his initial advisory) the Mayor worked a bit of damage control on the still heated issue, while keeping the focus on the Federal officials who went ahead with the unwelcome landscaping work.

While he was offering up the City's review of events, he also noted, and correctly so, that the public should not turn its frustration and anger on those who work in the Federal building and who are residents of the community, noting that many of them are also upset by the work that took place.

The Mayor's Facebook presentation makes for a rather  protracted overview of the situation, with a range of pathways to follow along the way, however, two items stand out from all of the Mayor's message making.

The first being some information not previously disclosed, with the Mayor noting that the City of Prince Rupert, had indeed known about the Federal plan much earlier in the week prior to the Friday cuts.

Something that wasn't made quite so clear on Friday, with the delivery of the original notice of the incident as relayed through the Mayor's Facebook page.

From Monday's update and review of the situation, segment Four of the Mayor's commentary provides for the timeline of sorts between Tuesday and Friday for us to review:

4. Permitting: PSPC’s contractors came in to the City on Tuesday to request a 'sidewalk closure permit' from the City so they could park their vehicles on that street for longer than two hours and encumber the sidewalk. 

The City inquired what for, and they mentioned to cut down the trees. Our engineering department mentioned they could not cut down those trees, but the contractors claimed they were on federal property. 

Our surveying crew then came out to check whether these trees were in fact on federal property, and discovered that they were. The federal government does not need a permit from the City to cut down trees on their property. 

The sidewalk closure permit was not granted that day, and on Friday morning they started cutting the trees down, without an authorized sidewalk closure permit until midway through. 

Our engineering department did what they could midstream to try to stop the situation, but legally could not do anything about it. Never in a million years would Council or anyone at the City chop these beautiful trees down.

And while that passage explains how, despite the city's objections, the trees still managed to get cut down. Friday's incident also tends to highlight the second takeaway of yesterday's commentary from the Mayor.

That being an indication as to how the City seems unable to deliver community concerns to outside officials in a fashion that nips such situations in the bud, something which has been a recurring theme in the community for  a number of years, for a number of past councils and Mayors.

The Cherry Blossom Tree issue, is somewhat similar to the episode with CN Rail and the fencing off of the waterfront last year, another incident which found the City somewhat out of the loop and unable to effect change.

And that is not the first time that the community has found actions taken without any form of consultation.

Back in August of 2011 local residents who once enjoyed the peaceful nature of Ridley Island and its waterfront area, were suddenly denied those opportunities by the Port of Prince Rupert, which put in security measures to ensure that there was no more public access to the Ridley Island site.

And while the actions at that time time did make for some sense on a corporate level and the land is, and remains under the control of the Port of Prince Rupert, somehow missed in that move was the sense of loss that the community felt, without benefit of discussion, or an offer of some other option to provide for a  replacement of similar nature.

Over the last decade, bit by bit, Prince Rupert residents feel that they are being squeezed out of their own hometown, with the incident of Friday another sign that no one is inclined to consult with them before irreversible actions are taken.

What must be disappointing for the Mayor is how the latest incident was launched despite his frequent trips to the nation's capital, where Mr. Brain has sought to build relationships with federal officials and to raise and address local issues.

With each journey that the Mayor and City Manager have made back east, Prince Rupert residents have been advised through the same Facebook page, of the importance of those trips and how they provide benefits to the community.

Yet it seems that in the case of the Cherry trees,  through the three days of last week, from the initial notice of the planned work,  to the time that the chainsaws came out, neither the Mayor, City Manager, nor anyone else at the City could apparently reach anyone on the phone to put a stop to what has now become another symbol of community outrage.

With the trees now reduced to unsightly stumps in the sidewalk, the Mayor is calling for "respectful" commentary, funnelling those contributions though his social media page, noting how Public Services and Procurement Canada is willing to make amends for the incident.

Towards that engagement, the Mayor is now asking for submissions from the public as to how the Federal Services Department can honour the history of the trees for the community.

The Mayor also provides a list of Federal officials that residents may wish to contact, should they be inclined to follow up on the issue:

Still to be delivered to the community, is any form of communication from Public Services and Procurement Canada that might help to explain their decision and to offer a companion piece to the Mayor's account of the events.

That would provide some guidance for the public as to whether the work was related to safety concerns, or other other considerations that led them to the decision to bring out the chain saws on a Friday morning.

Perhaps at some point Federal officials may provide for their own media release on the topic and offer up more background on the work that took place.

Until that point, all we have is the City's account of events and towards that theme, you can review the Mayor's full manifesto from Monday here.

Friday's Cherry Tree cull has generated a few contributions for the discussion, which can be found below:

Musician hopes to salvage grandfather's legacy by turning destroyed cherry trees into instruments
"It is such a shame that this happened," Mayor responds to chopped cherry trees
History behind the cherry trees the feds cut down in Prince Rupert
Prince Rupert's cherry trees chopped
'They got murdered': anger after decades-old cherry trees destroyed in Prince Rupert

More items of interest related to Civic issues in Prince Rupert can be found on our Council Discussion page.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.


  1. this is exactly the type of embarrasing article that has lost you so much credibility over the last couple years. another stupid conspiracy theory blaming the mayor for something that isnt citys fault

    1. See the entry to the comment below, it probably best addresses your concerns. Though I'm not exactly sure where the embarrassment should come from, no conspiracy, no blame just a review of the "facts" as provided in the original item on Facebook


  2. ever since new crew at the paper has been beating you to stories youve started writing stuuupid pieces like these. tossing around blame and half truths to suit your own pessimistic narrative. just admit that you dont like the mayor and convert this blog to the gossip girl column that it is now

    1. The crew at the Paper is "beating" me to stories? Someone needs to perhaps do an audit of stories and when they are posted ... for the most part the paper barely even covers council work other than a short synopsis once a week. As for tossing around blame, not sure that I did that, never once suggested that the tree cutting was the fault of the City, just that they had four days advance notice and still could not find a way to stop the plans. As I noted, the issue of the City not being able to get the attention of other jurisdictions is a long running issue ...

    2. somebody is a wee bit defensive! but ok i will play.

      1. quick audit: mayor posts at noon. paper has online covered by 1:20pm same day. You dont have covered until next day at 9am. pretty clear victor there (wasnt you sorry)

      2. your entire colum is blaming city for not being able to stop a higher levl of govt from doing something. the ultimate definition of victim blaming

    3. Hardly defensive, just stating a fact, then again you don't seem inclined or interested in that.

      As for your two supposed points ...

      1. LOL that's note an audit, that's called cherry picking. You are referencing one story in a day over lets say a week or a month, but hey take your victory, you seem to need one.

      As the Mayor would say and did in his Facebook post, I like to take my time to examine an issue before weighing in.

      The article I believe you are referencing, for the most part just posted his Facebook post verbatim, with a short intro ... but if that's what you like.

      You should probably tip your newspaper boy or girl

      2. I merely pointed out the fact that City knew four days in advance about the planned destruction of the trees. which made up but a few lines of the column. I don't particularly consider the City to be a victim though, that's kind of a stretch. The trees perhaps ...


    4. dont you mean cherry blossom picking? ...too soon?

      funny that you say i dont care for the facts when i just schooled you with an objective, easily verifiable and indisputable fact that the paper beat you to the punch. but againn

    5. LOL,You've schooled me have you? Well if you say so ...

      Perhaps peruse the blog items of the day for today and the coverage of Council from Monday's session ... or not .. it probably doesn't fit your narrative.

      Now if you'll excuse me I do have better things to do ...


    6. better things to do? thats probs the funnyest thing youve ever said. coming from a blogger with obviously nothing but time on your hands.

      credit where it is due tho: your rate of content production is impressive. but that also unfortunately undermines your argument that you have better things to do

    7. OK, well I'm not really sure what you are trying to say there, but then again, that would seem to be a common theme with much of what it is you "contribute" to the comments section.

      At times you seem to come across as a dog trying to chase its own tail ...


  3. Hopefully the Mayor will move beyond the anger and indignation and propose a way for the City to suitably memorialize Mr Shimizu's gift and the Japanese - Canadian community that through forced removal became a casualty of war.

    1. leave it to brtav to twist the mayors words just liek NCR. mayor calls for respectful comments and suggestions for making it right, you say hes angry and annoying. you guys make it way too easy to see thru

    2. I do not say that the Mayor is annoying. He talks a lot, about 'making it right' and so on, but offers no solutions. After much talk at the last council meeting there was not even a decision to write a letter to the feds to tell them what would 'make it right'.

  4. It would be great to track down the pieces of the the tree that were cut. There's a story there I presume.

    1. I believe the CBC did up a story where a relative is hopeful of turning the wood into musical instruments, which would be a fascinating thing if it were to happen. As for the current status of the wood taken, that probably is something the contractor would have an answer for


  5. Hurtin blog with 1 or 2 fans