By Ted Mitchell
Published April 28, 2010
My inbox has been overheating lately with another Kirkendall issue, indignation over "cutting 320 trees at The Rez", aka Highland Gardens Park, which incorporates a well-used section of the Bruce Trail.
The City has a plan starting this spring, involving:
Build a large pumping station structure in the east end meadow, at the end of Hillcrest Ave (which apparently is highly important even though it will only operate a few percent of the time); and
Refurbish the upper level reservoir, as it has been neglected since it was built in 1932.
The engineering consultant is Genivar, which has just put up a website explaining the plan. It is in engineering language, so don't be surprised if it is difficult to decipher.
There have been numerous meetings about this project in recent years, and a community liaison committee (CLC) has been struck to deal with issues such as tree cutting. In fact, I had applied to be on this committee but apparently there were more qualified applicants.
Members of the CLC, who are my neighbours, were unable to explain why so many trees were blazed last fall and what proportion of them would be chopped down.
I'm not sure if I have concerns about cutting so many trees. What defines a tree? Do one-metre-tall shrubberies count? What percentage of the hundreds of trees blazed last fall halfway up the escarpment to Beckett Drive will be coming down?
Has there been a sensible decision making process for tree removal, such as identifying the furthest tree with roots breaching the reservoir, cutting trees up to this point but no further? Or perhaps balancing the impact of reservoir root intrusion against slope instability problems caused by tree removal?
You see, reading the website, you cannot answer these relevant questions.
So I'm saying to the City planners and Genivar: don't be surprised that people freak out when you don't inform them in plain English in what is going on.
Forget the engineering drawings and gobbledygook. Putting these on whiteboards and calling it a PIC is lame, sterile and ineffective.
Take a video camera, walk the trail, explain for example what a tree is and which ones need to be removed and why, and put it on Youtube and email the community. Organize a walkabout with consultants and point out the affected trees.
This is called communication, and you guys suck at it.
Info from the December 2009 PIC is available online. PIC # 2 is scheduled for tonight, April 29, 2010 from 6pm to 8pm at St. Joseph's Church Hall, 260 Herkimer St.