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TBM councillor seeks to save Thornbury trees

Prompted by public outcry, and his own memories, councillor wants other options considered for servicing on Thornbury street
Local residents raised alarm bells about the number of trees marked for removal as part of ongoing construction work in Thornbury.

The Blue Mountains councillor Alex Maxwell is calling for the town to reconsider its plans to remove a number of trees in Thornbury.

In the notices of motion section for the town council meeting on Nov. 20, Maxwell has included a resolution that, if passed, would direct staff to look at other servicing options in the Louisa/Alice/Elma streets area of town in order to preserve trees that have been marked for removal.

The fate of dozens of trees in that area of Thornbury has been an intense topic of conversation in the community for the past couple of weeks.

Local residents have been questioning why so many trees need to be removed. At a recent committee of the whole meeting, town staff explained that required upgrades to underground servicing in the area was the prime reason that the trees have to be replaced. The plans for installing the underground service upgrades have been in the works for several years. 

In an email, Maxwell said that area of Thornbury has special memories for him.

“Louisa and Elma Street both have personal historical significance for me. My junior school was on Elma Street, we played ball hockey on Louisa Street, tobogganed on the Louisa Street hill, rode our bikes down Elma, turned onto Louisa and headed to the five-and-dime store and the village fountain and then off the diving board at the pier. My wife and I rented an apartment almost at the corner of Elma and Louise for several years,” Maxwell said.

He also said it’s important for elected officials to listen to the concerns of the community.

“An elected official should always have the willingness to entertain alternate forms of information and new ideas in their decision-making process. Who knows at the council table what will happen, given that we now have some fresh eyes and the democratic principle is at play,” he said.

Maxwell’s resolution directs town staff to look at other options.

“Explore alternative servicing methods, such as utilizing Lorne Street to provide access for residents off Elma Street, considering a single-lane, one-way residential traffic corridor with built-in traffic calming measures and a sidewalk,” states the resolution.

The resolution references “substantial concerns” in the community about the potential tree removals and calls the trees “historic and significant.”

Maxwell’s resolution suggests the trees may have been planted under the Tree Planting Act of 1883. The full text of the resolution can be found on the agenda for the meeting here.

The resolution will come before council for a decision at the Nov. 20 meeting.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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