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Wind brings down massive tree, blocking five lanes of North Van traffic

Did you get caught in this?
Tree down web Maria Lavis
Drivers come to a halt on Marine Drive on the North Vancouver/West Vancouver border, May 18, 2022, while crews clean up massive cottonwood tree, blocking five lanes of traffic.

Heavy winds brought down a massive tree, blocking five lanes of Marine Drive between the Lions Gate Bridge and Capilano Road, Wednesday (May 18).

North Vancouver resident Maria Lavis said her heart was left racing after witnessing the incident around 12:05 p.m.

“About five cars up from me, I see this huge cottonwood tree just crashing down towards the road, and that it did,” she said, still somewhat in disbelief. "It was one of those moments where time slows down and it seemed like it was falling in slow motion, and you put on your brakes because you want to be safe and you hope nobody gets hurt.”

Thankfully, the tree didn’t hit any vehicles or people, said assistant fire chief Jeremy Duncan from West Vancouver Fire and Rescue.

Crews from District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and Miller Capilano Highway Services were also there to block up the cottonwood and remove it.

“But they've identified another tree that they're worried about, considering the impending windstorm,” Duncan said. “They're actually going to take that tree down as a precautionary measure.”

Traffic backed up onto the Lions Gate Bridge and into West Vancouver. Most people stayed calm and waited in their vehicles, although a few got out to snap pics or video. Others were diverted through Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) land down to Welch Street.

North Vancouver resident Rebecca Kearley said she was impressed by how quickly crews got two lanes open again.

“There was police, there was fire and rescue, there were city workers, there were random construction workers, random people out of their cars. Everybody was just trying to kind of help with what they could,” she said. “Oh my god, I got wood chips everywhere.”

Lavis said she too was impressed with how everyone handled the situation.

“It was all very fast,” she said. “It’s life in North Van. It often happens, but usually not right in front of you.”