Old and dying cottonwood trees are being removed from in front of the Caetani Cultural Centre to make way for a new sidewalk and roundabout on Pleasant Valley Road.

Old and dying cottonwood trees are being removed from in front of the Caetani Cultural Centre to make way for a new sidewalk and roundabout on Pleasant Valley Road.

Caetani trees come down

A number of old cottonwood trees were recently removed from in front of the Caetani Cultural Centre

A Vernon heritage property is undergoing a bit of a makeover so that its residents and visitors will have a clearer vision.

A number of old cottonwood trees were recently removed from in front of the Caetani Cultural Centre to make way for the construction of a new sidewalk, fence and a traffic calming circle at the junction of 35th Avenue and Pleasant Valley Road, located directly in front of the home.

“One of the defining features of this 120-plus-year-old registered heritage property are the enormous, majestic and sheltering trees of diverse species located on the grounds. Many of the trees on the property are much older than the house itself,” said Susan Brandoli, manager of the Caetani Cultural Centre.

“As much as the Caetani Society, who now manages the house and grounds for the city and the regional district, regrets to lose any trees, they note that there are positive things coming out of this that will eventually balance all the changes.”

Once belonging to Italian-born aristocrat Leone Caetani and later by his artist daughter Sveva Caetani, the home and property were bequeathed to the city after Sveva’s death in 1994. The home now consists of both residential units and artist studios, while the grounds are used for public events during the summer months.

A city arborist determined what trees, some of which were dying, were to be removed from the property. One of the largest trees at the end of the home’s driveway was h0llowed out and used to stash drug paraphernalia, said Brandoli.

“Two years ago the centre lost one large tree in a heavy snowstorm, blocking driveway access, but luckily falling in such a way that it did not  damage any buildings or passersby. Several more trees at the back of the property also suffered the same fate just in the last few years,” she said.

Safety is another key factor for the tree removal.

Exiting from the home’s long driveway has always been a perilous and life-threatening activity as traffic has to navigate a blind corner, and exiting vehicles are unable to see or be seen, said Brandoli.

“Calming the traffic will be a welcome change, as the society runs a popular outdoor summer music series, so the overall traffic noise levels on Pleasant Valley Road will definitely improve as well as safer access to the driveway,” she said.

The removed trees will be replanted with other trees and shrubs for future generations to enjoy, added Brandoli.

“In addition, there is a walkway connecting points of interest and public buildings throughout the downtown core and beyond, which is part of this construction. The Caetani Centre and the Vernon Rec Centre will be directly connected via this pathway along this stretch,” she said.

The house is also getting an upgrade to its aging sewer lines, which have overflowed three times in the last 10 years, due in part by tree roots, as well as a new water pipeline.

“This is so the Caetani Society can go ahead with plans to install a fire suppression and sprinkler system, a necessary prerequisite for public community access to the house,” said Brandoli.