A series of stumps bursting through the concrete of Oak Bay Avenue could face their reckoning come October.
The district is close to finalizing agreements with four private property owners in the 2100-block to allow for work on the remains of Norwegian maple trees removed this time last year. The large trees were causing concrete shifts, interference with underground infrastructure and creating tripping hazards. Two were removed last summer with four more the following October.
While the aim at the time was to complete tree removal and temporary rehabilitation of the sidewalks in early 2021, with permanent concrete rehabilitation and tree planting in the spring, Oak Bay staff realized the district would need access to both private and public land to complete the work.
The district hopes to have that in place to begin work on the trees and surrounding infrastructure in October, said Dan Horan, director of engineering.
The work will also eliminate the tripping hazards in the area – the lifted sections of concrete near the stumps are highlighted in orange to alert pedestrians – but won’t happen quickly.
Because the work is in the heart of Oak Bay Village, the project may pause again for the Christmas season, traditionally a busy one for downtown businesses.
Work could take about a week per stump to remove it and the associated root system, unearthing the unknown as they go.
“There is a lot going on underground and it’s part of the reason we needed to do the work in the first place,” Horan said.
Then crews must rework the torn-up sidewalks, also taking into consideration water drainage. The current root systems and associated concrete shifts impacted the water runoff design, also impacting adjacent private property.
Replacement trees will likely be ginkgo biloba, according to parks manager Chris Hyde-Lay.
The trees are drought resistant, tolerate poor soil and don’t break up the concrete. They offer a nice fall colour, without a lot of leaf litter, he noted. “They’re a tree that really suits future climate models.”