The future removal of dozens of trees in Thornbury is the unavoidable consequence of significant infrastructure repairs and upgrades.
The Blue Mountains council received that message from town staff at its committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 7. Last week, the town began marking the trees in the Louisa, Alice and Elma Street areas that will be removed as part of ongoing infrastructure work in that area of town.
Local residents have been expressing concerns about the number of trees to be removed – some of which are decades old.
The alarm in the community prompted Coun. Paula Hope to add the issue to the agenda for the Nov. 7 meeting for council to receive an update on the situation.
“This is certainly a major concern to the community,” said Hope.
Hope said a primary concern expressed to her by the public was the thought that the town was removing trees on Louisa Street to create more parking spaces.
Shawn Carey, the town’s operations director, delivered a verbal report that delved into the multi-year history of the ongoing work in that area of Thornbury and outlined the town’s plans to replace the trees that will be lost by creating a “micro forest” on Louisa Street.
Carey explained that the reason the trees on Louisa Street are being removed is underground infrastructure work that must be done.
“Servicing connections are the main cause of those trees being removed on the south end,” he said.
Carey acknowledged that the appearance of the town’s signs marking which trees would be removed “raised alarm bells with residents.” He said those signs would soon be replaced with signs with more information, including a QR code that when scanned would provide a link to the Thornbury west reconstruction project webpage.
Carey said installing the underground works for water, sewage and stormwater is a significant project on Louisa Street that will require extensive trench digging. He said the trees in the area have been assessed by an arborist and would be unlikely able to absorb the impacts of the construction work.
“Unfortunately it’s unavoidable,” he said.
Carey said the town would be planting new trees in a parkette area planned on Louisa Street. The street will become a one-way street for traffic and a small retaining will be built in the sloped area.
Carey also said the town has endeavoured to save as many trees as possible by making changes and alterations to the project.
“We have made some design changes to save some of those trees,” he said.
Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca