It has been dead for awhile but Vancouver conservationists have fought hard to keep an iconic part of Stanley Park alive.
Their efforts have failed, however, as a decision was made at the Vancouver Parks Board meeting late Monday night to take down the Hollow Tree - a favourite landmark that has been standing in the park for more than 1,000 years.
The ancient red cedar has been dead for years but it wasn't considered a safety risk until 2006, when storms and high winds battered the aging bark. The tree now leans at a dangerous angle.
"It had moved and had split some more," said Ian Robertson, the commissioner of the Vancouver Parks Board. "We reached the point where we believed it was no longer safe."
A staff report (external - login to view) presented at the meeting says the trunk of the tree is vertically cracked and separated in some places.
"Cabling, bolts and braces have been added over the past 30 years to keep the trunk together," the report says.
After the tree was deemed a safety risk, the city put up a fence around it to keep people from getting too close to it.
The report says a structural engineer was hired to assess the situation and recommend solutions to saving the tree.
"The recommendation was for a series of large external steel braces to counter act the 11-degree lean. Even with these efforts, there is no assurance of success," the report says. "They will ruin the aesthetics of the setting as they would be right in front of the hollow opening, discouraging family photos."
The board was open to keeping at least a part of the tree on the site to stand as a monument to its history in the park and to draw tourists.
"We intend to split it length wise and set it up as two natural cedar walls with a pathway between them so people can appreciate the scale and the majesty of that tree," said Jim Lowden, another member of the Parks Board.
The board also approved planting a new red cedar in its place, according to The Globe and Mail.
Members of the public cried out in anger over the decision, yelling "shame, shame" after Monday night's vote.
People have an emotional attachment to the tree, as it has become a tradition for families to take pictures inside the tree's gaping, hollow trunk.
Meg Stanley, a conservationist and local historian said the board needs to appreciate the tree's value as "pop art."
"I would direct staff to revisit the report to develop viable options using the principals of cultural resource management respecting its heritage value as a piece of pop art," she said.
Ralph Kelman, a structural engineer who also attended the board meeting, said city staff should have come up with more solutions.
"When you have a tree that is this important, it's really a national monument and civic monument," he said.