Cherry blossoms in Prince Rupert, spring 2017. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

In Our Opinion: The sound of cherry trees

What happens when you cut a cherry tree, or two, down in Prince Rupert? It makes a noise.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, it’s likely it won’t make a sound loud enough to reach newsrooms. But if a cherry tree is cut down on Fourth Street and Second Avenue West, the public screams bloody murder.

But the question is: will those outcrys to restore the historic Japanese cherry trees chopped outside the federal building in Prince Rupert be heard in Ottawa?

READ MORE: Prince Rupert’s cherry trees chopped

Despite what many have assumed, the mayor and the City of Prince Rupert did not want to cut down these trees, and neither did the people caught in the line of fire at the DFO office. The decision came from our federal government office responsible for Public Services and Procurement. Once again, it’s amazing how a decision that may seem so small to some, and so poorly researched, could cause such a stir.

The only public service the government achieved by landscaping federal property was making North Coast residents more aware of their history — and a little more sensitive to losing one of the few beautiful sights offered downtown.

READ MORE: The legacy of the cherry trees in Prince Rupert

Let’s reverse the situation. What would happen if a federal decision-making power was based in Prince Rupert and decided that one of the tulip fields near Dow’s Lake in Ottawa needed to be “modernized” and contractors mowed down precious tulips that had been presented as a gift from the Netherlands?

The residents of that well-funded community wouldn’t be too pleased either.

In Japan, cherry blossoms are a symbol of friendship and enjoying nature. People travel great distances to picnic under the prettiest pink-topped trees in a custom called hanami, or flower viewing.

For Shotaru Shimizu to gift 1,500 of these trees to a city he no longer resided in, after he had been sent to a Japanese internment camp and had his business stripped from him, is a tremendous symbol of what Prince Rupert meant to him.

But what does this rural community mean to the feds? Are they listening?

Let the sound from the few trees that fell last week reverberate all the way to Ottawa to restore what was lost. We’re waiting.

Send us your Letter to the Editor HERE to let us know how you feel about the cherry trees being cut down.



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