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Willow trees in Spencer Smith Park trees reach end of life; ceremony June 6

willow treesI am saddened to let the community know the two large willow trees in Spencer Smith Park have reached their end of life and must be removed for public safety.

The two trees came from clippings transplanted in the 1950s by Spencer Smith, a local entrepreneur and long-time member of the Burlington Horticultural Society, after whom the park is named.  Over time the trees have provided shelter, shade, beauty, and lasting memories of significant events that happened under her branches.

To recognize and honour these trees, I am planning a ceremony to remember the trees  before they are removed:

Date: Monday June 6, 7pm

Location: Gazebo, Spencer Smith Park

Please join me, and spread the word to friends and neighbours. Kindly bring your own lawn chair or blanket.

I am also exploring options to preserve some of the wood for public art or other public uses, and cuttings will be taken for replantings. See details below.

Do you have a special memory of the willow trees? Please send them to Georgie.Gartside@Burlington.ca. We will collect these and determine an appropriate way to display and share these memories.

I hope to see you Monday! Enjoy your weekend and plan a trip to the park for a last opportunity to take a photograph with these beautiful heritage landmarks in our community.

Why are they coming down?

During a recent investigation, the city’s arborist found significant rotting and areas of decay, especially on the upper branches. An independent analysis of the tree condition confirmed they must be removed. I hate to see trees cut, but public safety is paramount.

When will the removal start and end?

The city will bring tree removal equipment into the park on June 7 to remove most of the two trees, starting with the upper branches. The eight-foot-high trunks will be removed after the Sound of Music Festival, which runs from June 16 to 19.

What’s happening with the wood?

The city will keep 70 clippings of the willow trees for rooting and replanting, one for each year of the trees’ lives. The healthy portions at the base of the trees will be kept for future art or woodworking opportunities.

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

4 Comments

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  1. Is there no way to delay taking them down until the fall? I think taking them down at the beginning of the summer season denies park users of the beauty of these trees for 1 last season. I’m sure there will be some very disappointed bridal parties in the coming months when they find the background for thie pictures has been taken down. If they have lasted 70 years, surely they could last another 5 months.

  2. Is there any plan to plant clippings from these trees in the same area of the park, or anywhere else in the park?

  3. Can’t you at least leave demolishing the trees until after the Sound of Music? Without the top branches it would look so ugly for all the visitors to our city.

What's your take?