Residents eager to have Siberian elms uprooted

Some residents are upset about Siberian elm trees on the City of Vernon boulevards.

Siberian elm trees are causing a nuisance in local neighbourhoods.

Siberian elm trees are causing a nuisance in local neighbourhoods.

A significant challenge is taking root along Vernon streets.

Some residents are upset about Siberian elm trees on the city boulevards.

“We’re hearing from people who want to get rid of them and the complaints are because they drop branches and leaves,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

“They were planted a long time ago when people thought they were pretty.”

In fact,  the origins of many of the elms isn’t known, especially in the Blue Jay subdivision, which hasn’t always been part of Vernon.

“We’re not sure if they seeded themselves,” said Shirley Koenig, operation services manager.

Siberian elms are also common on 17th Street on East Hill.

Many jurisdictions have labelled the non-native elms as noxious plants.

“They are considered that because they spread and because of their growing pattern,” said Koenig.

According to a Regional District of South Okanagan report on Siberian elms, “the abundant, wind-dispersed seeds allow this tree to spread rapidly, forming dense thickets that displace native vegetation and reduce forage for wildlife and livestock.”

The species have proven difficult to maintain.

Lord says city regulations only allow trees to be removed if they are dangerous.

“The policy isn’t to take them out because they’re a nuisance,” she said, adding that the rules should be revisited so the elms can be removed gradually.

While she believes the rules could be amended, Lord doesn’t want to see vast clear-cutting of trees along boulevards because trees provide a benefit to the community.

“There has to be some rationale behind it and every case has to be treated independently,” she said.

Property owners can remove Siberian elms at their own cost but approval is required first and city staff must determine the tree is not providing any value.

“Right now we don’t have any funds to remove them,” said Koenig.

As a result of Lord’s concerns, city staff will review the issue of Siberian elms and bring a report back to council for consideration.