A dense and tall tree canopy over a four-block stretch of East 12th Avenue between Kingsway and Prince Albert Street provides a visually appealing ‘tunnel’ drive.
This roadway with four lanes of through-traffic sees significant vehicle volumes as it is an important east-west arterial route in the city, and it eventually leads to the Trans-Canada Highway. Fraser Street also crosses through this stretch.
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But one resident living in the area believes it is only a mater of time before someone is seriously injured by falling trees and branches, especially during a windstorm.
The problem at hand: Large trees, with trunks as wide as more than a metre, lining both sides of the street — right along the curbside. The size of these trees are generally unusual for a major arterial route in the city.
“I have been [living] here for nine years and enormous trees and branches have fallen after every big windstorm we’ve seen,” Shiela Williamson told Daily Hive. “Someone is going to get hurt eventually… I have no doubt about it.”
She says several trees fell near the southwest corner of the intersection of 12th Avenue and Fraser Street in a 2015 windstorm, and during the major December 2018 windstorm a large tree fell onto two homes located one block west of that intersection.
— James Grey (@JamesGrey7) December 20, 2018
While tall, old trees line many of Vancouver’s streets, particularly in the Westside area, they are usually on small, quiet neighbourhood streets, whereas 12th Avenue in this part of the Eastside is a major artery.
Due to the encroachment of the wide tree trunks, the road lanes on this span of 12th Avenue are far narrower than other parts of the route. Signs at either end of the four-block span warn vehicles of limited curb clearance due to the trees.
Williamson adds the city has taken down some trees, but she asserts it is not enough and the municipal government should be more proactive.
“They’ve only really looked into it after the fact. One way or another, the trees are going to come down… but will it be mother nature or us doing the work?” she continued. “Right now it really is one of Vancouver’s most dangerous streets.”
Daily Hive reached out to the Vancouver Park Board, which maintains the trees that line the streets across the city, for comment.
According to the Park Board’s Urban Forestry Department, there are no plans to remove the trees along that stretch. All of the trees in this area are inspected annually for any issues and are “all in good condition.”