Vancouver Park Board to update Stanley Park forest fire plan

The Vancouver Park Board is moving forward to address the wildfire risk caused by dead trees in Stanley Park. Sarah Chew has more on the motion to update the Stanley Park Forest Management Plan.

The Vancouver Park Board is moving forward to address the wildfire risk caused by dead trees in Stanley Park.

On Monday, the board carried the motion to update the Stanley Park Forest Management Plan that commissioner Tom Digby submitted two weeks ago.

“I’m very pleased my ABC colleagues at the park board recognize the urgency of a forest fire risk at Stanley Park,” Digby told CityNews.

He says there’s a huge wildfire risk in the park because a Hemlock looper moth infestation killed about 20 per cent of the forest canopy.


A looper moth is seen on the branches of a hemlock tree

Many hemlock trees in Vancouver’s Stanley Park were killed by a looper moth outbreak. (CityNews Image)


Digby feels the plan should target that issue.

“I mean, it’s going to take us years to solve the dead tree issue but there’s all kinds of other mitigation steps that staff can implement — it’s a question of funding. Do we need more water in the park? Do we need to hydrate the aquifers perhaps during the wintertime when there’s more water around?” he asked.



The park board will have a full report on the wildfire risk and mitigation steps in September, but staff say they’ve been aware of the dead tree situation in the park for years.

“It was, I guess, in 2021 that we initiated the process to procure a consultant and bring a consultant on board to assist in, basically, creating a mitigation plan and prescriptions to support that plan,” explained City of Vancouver Urban Forestry Manager Joe McLeod.


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The board hopes to lower the wildfire risk in Stanley Park by next summer. In the meantime, staff say it’s safe to visit.

“It’s our understanding that the trees, based on the time that certain trees have been dead, it’s not long enough for them to present an acute risk of failure,” McLeod said.


Many hemlock trees in Vancouver's Stanley Park have been killed amid a looper moth outbreak

Many hemlock trees in Vancouver’s Stanley Park have been killed amid a looper moth outbreak. (CityNews Image)


Part of Digby’s motion involves including Indigenous perspectives on how to mitigate fire risk in the park, which was not done in the last update 14 years ago.

“Historically, Stanley Park was subject to small fires all the time. Indigenous folks really understand the role of fire in maintaining a natural forest habitat. We’ve completely suppressed that in Stanley Park which leads to this tremendous fire load and fuel that’s built up all through the park,” he previously explained.

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