Vancouver police, park board searching for tree-topping vandals

Police and the Vancouver Park Board are trying to figure out who chopped the tops off of eight trees at Spanish Banks.

The park board said staff noticed the damage, which also included severed branches, on Thursday in a grove of conifers at the foot of Tolmie Street.

Officials haven’t settled on an official motive, but park board director Howard Norman said he has some theories.

“Past history would tell me that it’s somebody that probably decided that in the future these trees may impede their view,” he told Global News.

“It looks to me that that’s the reason why. It doesn’t look like they were taken for Christmas trees or any other reason [other] than in the future, they could impede somebody’s view.”

Norman said the suspects appear to have used a hand saw, and in some cases climbed as high as 20 feet to do the damage.

Intentionally damaging trees is a criminal offence and the park board says it plans to seek “stiff penalties” for whoever is involved.

“Whenever we come across something like this it’s very disappointing that somebody would decide that it’s okay to go ahead and top trees on public property because these trees belong to everybody in Vancouver,” Norman said.

There is no evidence to suggest that homeowners across the street from the park were involved in the vandalism.

However, that didn’t stop some people from speculating that the culprits were neighbours concerned about their current — or future — views.

Those suspicions are not surprising given several high-profile cases in Metro Vancouver in recent years involving trees removed illegally to improve views.

A trio of North Vancouver men were fined $80,000 in 2014 for cutting down 35 trees in one case. In another, a Vancouver woman escaped without penalty after admitting to poisoning three trees in English Bay to improve the view from her condo.

The Vancouver Park Board and Vancouver police are now looking to speak with any witnesses to the vandalism and to collect any dash cam video shot in the area that may hold clues to the identity of the culprits.

-With files from Jill Bennett and Shrushti Gangdev

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