December 09, 2014 - 7:22 PM
KELOWNA – Test results on a stand of trees the City believes were poisoned to improve someone’s view of the lake last month have come back inconclusive.
Environment manager Todd Cashin says they still believe the trees were vandalized but whoever did it must have used a chemical that is quite common and ultimately untraceable.
“Initially we got the results back and the potassium concentration was really high,” he says. “If you Google how to kill a tree stump the number one result is potassium nitrate. Basically it tells you to drill a hole and pour it in. It even tells you where you can buy it.”
The 11 Ponderosa Pines are directly below two new houses being built on Westpoint Drive. Fresh holes were found in the bases of all the trees that have since turned brown, but Cashin says that is not enough evidence to charge anyone with fines and replacement fees.
“It’s pretty obvious what’s happened,” Cashin said shortly after the trees were discovered early last month. “If this was done to improve somebody’s view of the lake it looks very suspicious for a couple properties.”
Cashin says the reason potassium nitrate is so difficult to identify is because both potassium and nitrogen are commonly found in nature. He says they will continue to investigate but without evidence they have little to go on.
“It was disappointing,” he says. “But it has to be conclusive.”
The city says they have no plans to take the trees down until they are certain they cannot be saved.
“Our urban forest guys are going to be out there trying to do what they can to make sure they make it through the winter and we’ll reassess again in the spring.”
One of the two houses that stood to benefit from the removal of the trees has since attracted more unwanted attention from the city. Cashin says a recent site survey showed a concrete footing holding up a pool deck was extended beyond the property line into the park and ordered removed.
“A concrete wall and fill was pushed into park space a quarter of a metre,” he says. “And that’s just the wall. In order to put the wall in you have to disturb soil and that has happened on the park property.”
The owners were ordered to put down a $500 deposit for a park permit before they could begin removing the encroaching structure. Once the work is completed and provided no further damage is caused, the deposit will be returned.
Anyone with any information how the trees came to be damaged is asked to contact the city or bylaw enforcement.
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