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Aging willow removed from Riverside Park

A 50-year-old willow is removed from Riverside Park this week.
February 19, 2015 - 2:28 PM

KAMLOOPS - An iconic tree, known for its graceful boughs that provide enough shade for several families next to Riverside Water Park, is no longer.

City of Kamloops parks crews are removing the 50-year-old willow because it was quickly dying and posing a risk to public safety.

“It was a beautiful tree… But over the winter there was a lot of death, a lot of woodpeckering holes, it was deteriorating pretty fast,” Parks Supervisor Shawn Cook notes. “We have to take it seriously. We want to save our trees and keep our urban canopy. We try to make the decisions we make to try and keep them as long as we can.”

Cook says the willow is one of two trees removed from Riverside Park in the last few days and currently there are not any plans to cut down more trees in the downtown park. Succession planting has taken place and two maples and an ash were recently planted to replace the willow.

Willows typically only live 30 to 40 years so the city has been doing succession planting in preparation. The standard is to replace every removed tree with two new trees.

He says many of the trees in Riverside Park are up to 100 years old and in an effort to keep the urban canopy there needs to be a plan in place.

“That’s why we do succession planting in parks. You have to have a plan in place,” Cook says, noting more plantings are planned for Riverside in the spring. “We follow a similar (plan) to Vancouver and other municipalities across the country in planning for the future.”

The new trees are also considered more hardy and will become good shade trees for the urban park, though it will be awhile before families seeking shade near the water park can look to these ones for protection from the summer sun.

“We’re passionate about Riverside. It’s very mature and people come for the shade and relaxation,” Cooke says. “It’s beautiful, we don’t want to lose that.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 205-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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