Save Parliament Hill’s heritage elm tree

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When Canadians look through a live webcam in downtown Ottawa, just to the right of Centre Block and dominating the horizon is a stately elm tree.

It is an imposing and special tree.

It is the largest tree left standing on Parliament Hill.

A plan to renovate Centre Block over the next 10 years is threatening the tree’s existence. It could be cut down as part of the rehabilitation project.

But what if Canadians feel differently? What if, as a Canadian, you will stand with us in fighting to preserve the elm tree for future generations?

We see the tree’s heritage value. We celebrate its beauty and know that it represents our natural world in the heart of Canada’s capital city.

* The 100-year old tree shades a massive bronze statue of Sir John A. MacDonald. This connect it to an historic figure.

 * It has survived Dutch Elm disease, which destroyed millions of elm trees all across eastern Ontario during the 1980s. Our federal government, through the National Capital Commission (NCC), has spent thousands of tax dollars inoculating this elm tree against Dutch Elm Disease. This makes it a unique and valued seed source for a new generation of native elms.

* It is a symbol of the natural world in an otherwise denuded landscape on Parliament Hill.  Where else can visitors go to seek relief from a hot summer sun when they visit Parliament Hill?

 * It has seen Dominion Day, and then Canada Day crowds. It may have been a seedling during the great fire of 1916 that destroyed Centre Block.

If the elm were to die now it would become one of the Lost Trees of Ottawa. This important symbol of the natural world would be ripped forever from Parliament Hill.  

Our federal government has spent thousands of tax dollars inoculating this elm tree against Dutch Elm Disease and cared for it for decades. Now, it has a responsibility to plan Centre Block’s renovations so that this elder elm tree can live out the rest of its natural life in the spot it has occupied for 100 or more years.

Because we care about greenspace in Ottawa, including on Parliament Hill, we are demanding that the federal government

* Research and review the natural and cultural heritage value of this stately elm tree and its genetic pedigree.

* Conduct a thorough and professional tree assessment in the spring of 2019 to determine the tree’s health. 

* Ensure that building renovation plans are adapted, as needed, to keep this unique specimen alive for another generation of Canadians to enjoy.