Friends of ‘Dougy Fir’ lose court fight to save 300-year-old tree; get dinged with Saanich’s legal fees
Oct 22 2012
Jane Maycock, 11, and her brother Aaron, 5, place candles beside a much-loved 300-year-old Douglas fir during a commemoration service in Cadboro Bay on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.Photograph by: Adrian Lam , timescolonist.com
The fight to save a 300-year-old suburban tree in Saanich has failed, and the swift court battle could be costly for two neighbours who have to cover the city’s legal fees.
Residents in a Cadboro Bay neighbourhood blocked municipal workers from cutting down a Douglas fir his month, but Saanich retaliated by taking the protesters to court.
On Friday, the B.C. Supreme Court approved the district’s application to have the diseased tree cut down, on the ground that it poses a danger to public safety. Police also have been given authorization to arrest any resident who interferes with its removal.
“We got trashed in court,” said Bob Furber, one of the residents fighting to save the tree.
The ruling could be an expensive one for Furber and his neighbour, Max Cowper-Smith. Both appeared in court to argue for an application to trim the tree’s branches to prevent it from falling, but they were denied.
The two men will now share Saanich’s legal fees, which could range anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000, Furber said Sunday afternoon as he prepared for a vigil in honour of the tree that he and neighbours have nicknamed “Dougy Fir.”
“We’re not too pleased about that,” he said. “It could be a significant chunk of money.”
Furber said his annual charity contributions will be significantly decreased this year, depending on the financial damage.
He and his wife donate to several health-care, environmental and humanitarian organizations every year.
“This year it’s going to be less,” Furber said. “Saanich will get more money and somebody else who really needs it is going to get less.”
Several neighbours showed up Sunday evening to light candles and say farewell to the tree, which has been around since long before the neighbourhood was built.