Urban Forests Under Threat in Nanaimo

Urban Forests are under threat in Nanaimo. Two significant forested areas – Pioneer Forest in North Nanaimo and Linley Valley West in central Nanaimo – are under threat of development. The City of Nanaimo has been cleverly sidestepping residents’ demands for these areas to be saved for future generations.

Last week, the City of Nanaimo placed a two page notice in the local newspaper to proclaim “Wednesday, September 26th as National Tree Day.”

Selling off Nanaimo Parks

Nanaimo has had a dubious history of selling off parkland.

  • Protection Island was given to the city as parkland and it was later subdivided and sold as lots.
  • Beban Park was originally 160 acres and has been sold off in bits and pieces until it is the size it is today.
  • When the CPR wanted to sell Newcastle Island, Nanaimo wasn’t interested, so the provincial government stepped in and made it a provincial park.
  • Pioneer Forest was originally given to Nanaimo from the province to be used for parks and public space, now the City claims it should have been rezoned for development.

How many other cities would consider rezoning and developing parkland? What would happen in Vancouver if they decided to rezone Stanley Park for housing?

No bylaws to protect trees

In the City of Nanaimo, you can cut down trees on your property without a permit. Arbutus trees are no longer protected from being chopped down. Homeowners are allowed to clearcut lots without any oversight.

Comparatively, in Vancouver, a permit is required if the tree to be cut down is over 4’6″ in height. A site sketch is required if you just want to cut down one tree or a landscape plan if you want to cut down two or more trees.

There was an estimated 500-year-old Douglas Fir tree in a forested lot that was cleared in the area between McRobb and Uplands Streets in 2006. Now all that remains is a vacant lot overgrown with invasive plants.

Seeking Legal Help

Team Save Linley Valley West has been trying to save that urban forest for the last three years. They haven’t given up their fight despite continued opposition from the City of Nanaimo. Friends of Pioneer Forest have enlisted the help of an environmental lawyer to find out what can be done to Save Pioneer Forest which is used by both Lantzville and Nanaimo residents.

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