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Thornbury tree removal plan sparks public concern

Dozens of trees in Thornbury slated for removal to finish road and infrastructure project, council to discuss matter at Nov. 7 meeting
Two mature trees on Louisa Street in Thornbury that have been marked for removal.

The Blue Mountains council will be discussing public concerns about a plan to remove dozens of trees - some of them decades old - on several streets in Thornbury.

Over the past week, local residents in Thornbury have raised alarm bells about the number of trees scheduled to be cut down in Thornbury to finish a town road upgrade project.

In recent days, the Town of The Blue Mountains has been marking trees in the area of Louisa, Alice and Elma Streets. Dozens of trees have been slated for removal in the coming months as the town works to complete road, parking and underground infrastructure upgrades in the area.

Local resident Brendan Thomson raised the issue on The Blue Mountains Community Forum Facebook page. His post touched a nerve for many local residents and generated dozens and dozens of responses questioning the need for so many trees to be removed.

“They’re all kind of mature and large trees,” Thomson said in an interview, questioning why they had to be removed for additional parking. “We have an under-utilized parking lot on Arthur Street that the town paid big dollars for. I really don’t understand it. A lot of people don’t understand the point of it.”

Thomson wondered why so many trees had to be removed.

“I don’t think they really thought the issue out, of taking those trees down,” said Thompson, who said the road work could be completed without mass loss of trees. “Repair the sidewalks and repair the greenage and put street lights up. I think cutting down trees is unnecessary. These are very mature trees.”

By Nov. 6, concerns in the community about the issue had reached The Blue Mountains council table. At the Nov. 6 committee of the whole meeting, Coun. Paula Hope asked for the matter to be added to the agenda for the Nov. 7 committee of the whole meeting to allow council to have a discussion on the situation.

Also at the Nov. 6 meeting, councillors Gail Ardiel and Alex Maxwell announced notices of motion to bring forward resolutions about the matter to a future council meeting.

“People are upset,” Ardiel said in an interview after the meeting. “Tree canopies are beautiful. We need tree canopies. We have to have another look at this.”

Maxwell said there needs to be more dialogue on the issue.

“The community needs to have their say,” he said.

In an email after the meeting, Maxwell said a number of the mature trees that have been there for decades have a lot of historical value.

“Just imagine what these trees have witnessed, military troops for the First and Second World Wars, students going to school, merchants walking to work and back, people walking to the old Alexander's grocery store, visiting dignitaries, go kart races on Elma Street and Bruce Street, tobogganing on the side hill and people making maple syrup. Let alone shade and the eco-systems that they support,” said Maxwell.

Last week, the town issued a news release on the matter that explained the process and reasons for the trees being marked for removal.

“Over the past year, the town has committed additional time to thoroughly evaluate the design of Phase 1B with Tatham Engineering. Through these efforts, opportunities to retain existing mature trees within the project boundaries have been identified,” said release stated. “However, significant tree removals will still be required throughout this area due to tree health, grading, road cross sections and conflicts with drinking water, storm sewer and sanitary sewer services.”

The news release also stated that the trees would be removed during the winter months to avoid conflicts with nesting birds. The town also had an arborist complete a full inventory and health assessment of the trees impacted by the project.


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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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