A tree faller looks on as the Gyro Community Christmas Tree is put down at the old hospital site.

A tree faller looks on as the Gyro Community Christmas Tree is put down at the old hospital site.

Community Christmas tree goes down; new one by year’s end

The community Christmas tree was taken down today, but plans for a new tree should see another up by this Christmas.

With the blessing of the Gyro Club, Kitimat Council has given support in principle to an outdoor seating and plaza centre that would also house a community Christmas tree.

That comes as the Gyros came to accept the Christmas tree, as it is, would not find a new home.

The tree came to an end Friday morning when crews cut it down.

The tree was in the path of the installation of utilities and a road to service the Haisla Town Centre, while there was little hope of a successful transplant of the tree. At a sizeable price tag, it was ultimately deemed not worth the risk.

Even so, the decision didn’t come arbitrarily, and Kerkhoff Construction, developing the site for the Haisla, the Gyros and the District of Kitimat have had meetings to work out how best to develop the community’s Christmas tree legacy moving forward.

Leonard Kerkhoff for Kerkhoff Construction says that the Haisla have developed the concept designs for the proposed plaza, with consultation with the District of Kitimat. An agreement was made that the tree could be torn down on the understanding that a new tree would be installed at the proposed park.

“A new tree will be in place for this year’s Christmas, with lights on the tree,” said Kerkhoff.

Kitimat Council, at their August 24 Committee of the Whole meeting, approved in principle the plaza concept, which would see seating, a stage and the community Christmas tree.

While the tree may be in place by 2015’s holiday, the overall installation of a plaza won’t happen immediately but will be submitted with the District of Kitimat’s 2016 budget.

Overall the cost estimate for the development is over $200,000 but, to some extent at least, there will be partnerships with the Haisla in putting it together.

Gyro Club member Chris Rigoni gave councillors the history of the tree, and said the promise of a plaza and new tree is effectively which swung the club’s opinion on whether they would push for the tree to remain where it was. With the new plans on paper they could accept the loss of the original tree.

With that endorsement from the Gyro Club councillors welcomed the proposed plan.

“I was very pleased that the Gyro Club basically, with a long history with the Christmas Tree…is endorsing, is proactive and is already planning for this future Christmas Tree plaza,” said Councillor Rob Goffinet.

Larry Walker meanwhile emphasized that he wants to see the joint participation of the District with the Haisla to pay for the new plan.