A second Empress tree on White Rock’s waterfront will have to be removed, the city announced Wednesday, adding that the situation is ‘unfortunate.’ (Aaron Hinks photo)

Second, ailing Empress tree to be removed at Memorial Park

Waterfront feature will be replaced by hardier oaks

An ailing second Empress tree on the waterfront – adjacent to the ongoing upgrade of Memorial Park – will have to be removed, according to a post made Wednesday to the City of White Rock website.

A first Empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa) in the park was cut down in February, after city arborists discovered that its lack of strong, deep roots would make it impossible to relocate.

But the city says that while the removal of the second tree is “unfortunate,” it plans to replace it with two trees of an oak variety that should prove hardier.

According to the post, the arborists had discovered the second Empress is “in decline,” and, due to extensive root damage, is likely to fall on the BNSF tracks when the current slope-retaining wall is removed as part of the park-upgrade project.

A large cavity in the main stem indicates a sizable “rot pocket,” the post adds.

“One third of the tree is now dead and that when checked in the summer, the leaves in the tree were very limp indicating poor water intake and root damage, though the accepted tree barriers were still in place.”

On Thursday, city spokesperson Farnaz Farrokhi said “no date has been provided yet” for removal of the tree.

According to the post, however, the city plans to replace the tree in the middle of November.

Two Pin Oak trees (Quercus palustris) – the same variety chosen to replace the first Empress – are slated to take its place.

The trees, among the faster-growing oaks, are anticipated to reach a height of 25 feet and are estimated to have a 99 per cent survivability rate.

The city also says it will take steps to keep the trunk of the Empress and examine ways of further honouring it through a public art piece.

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