Nanaimo man fined $12,500 for cutting down 170-year-old tree

A Nanaimo man has been fined $12,500 for cutting down a tree that was older than Canada.

A B.C. provincial court judge ordered the fine Wednesday against Mladen Zuvich, who arranged to have a 170-year-old Douglas fir tree cut down without permission from the City of Nanaimo.

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“It’s a pretty special tree,” said City of Nanaimo lawyer Troy De Souza. “It’s an old tree, before confederation.”

The tree was an estimated 55 inches in diameter, and a city arborist called it a “one in a thousand” tree.

“It’s big, it’s bold, it’s majestic, and it would have been there for easily another 80 to 100 years,” DeSouza said.

Zuvich was convicted under the city’s tree bylaw. Zuvich’s lawyer and DeSouza made a joint submission and agreed on the fine amount.

DeSouza said typical fines for improper tree removal range from $2,000 to $2,500.

A person in Oak Bay was fined $48,350 for poisoning a horse chestnut tree on a Beach Drive boulevard. The Oak Bay tree, which was about 80 years old and 18 metres tall, was taken down in October because of the poison.

With plans to build a second home on his Jingle Pot Road property in January 2017, Zuvich had a permit to cut down some trees. City staff told him he could not cut down two Douglas fir trees, but said he could get a second opinion.

An independent arborist, who testified at trial, arrived on the property and said the tree in question looked healthy and was not at risk of falling over. As he went back to his car to get more tools, Zuvich ordered the tree cut down.

The man who removed the tree is also facing charges and will appear in court in January.

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