British Columbia

Vancouver oak tree replaced atop West End highrise

The original tree was placed on the roof of Eugenia Place in 1987, but later died.

Initial pin oak tree was installed on roof deck in 1987 but removed after it died

A crane lifts the new 10-metre tall pin oak 60 metres in the air to its new home in English Bay. (Kelly Gavin)

Part of the view in Vancouver's English Bay — missing for months — is now back.

Crews, using a massive crane, lifted a new 10-metre high pin oak tree up 60 metres to the roof of the Eugenia Place condominium building on Beach Avenue Wednesday afternoon.

The initial pin oak tree was installed on the roof deck in 1987 but was removed this year after it died.

The tree, weighing more than 4,000 kilograms, is hoisted by a crane to the top of the Eugenia Place condominium building on Beach Avenue in Vancouver on Nov. 1, 2017. (Chad Pawson/CBC)

"Everybody knows this tree, even if they don't have a view from their home," said local resident Roma Katz.

"Everybody's aware of that tree. Anybody that walks the seawall ... it represents what Vancouver is."

Katz said for the past two years she had watched the original tree turn yellow and die.

The pin oak was chosen as a roof top tree because of its heavy base, resistance to air pollution and limbs that can withstand strong winds. (Chad Pawson/CBC)

Architect Richard Henriquez designed the building, which included the tree. It was to stand as a symbol of the forest that once stood in the area.

While those trees were most likely cedar or fir trees, the oak is used for the top of the Eugenia due to its heavy base and light limbs, which are more able to withstand strong winds.

"Wind is a big issue," said Ron Rule the landscape architect, who installed the original tree and also planned its replacement.

"It's kind of a deja vu experience 30 years later."

A 2013 photo of the pin oak on top of the Eugenia Place condominium building on Beach Avenue in Vancouver. (Jennifer Vinopal/Twitter)

As part of the tree replacement, owners of the building spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix the roof's covering and redo its waterproofing.

The entire project cost more than $500,000, which was paid by the owners, said Rule.

A staff person inside the building said residents were glad to see the tree back. Rule says he understands why.

"It has become an icon of the neighbourhood, which is wonderful, and to replace it is very satisfying. Even the Christmas lights that were added to it became part of the neighbourhood experience," he said.

The view of Vancouver's West End from English Bay beach wasn't quite the same without the oak tree on top of the Eugenia Place condominium building. (David Horemans/CBC)

Hooks and cables will be used to help keep the new tree secure, while an automatic irrigation system will keep it watered.

An arborist will check its health once a month. The tree will be decorated with lights once it's established.

As part of the replacement, crews also removed the original soil and brought in 18 tonnes of new earth.

Local author and tree expert David Tracey says, although it's not in a forest, the tree can thrive with attentive care.

"I think any urban tree that gives people a chance to admire the splendour of nature is a wonderful thing," Tracey wrote in an email to CBC News.