Rez Tree-Cutting Plan Not Clearly Communicated

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:

  1. 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

  2. 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.

Ted Mitchell is a Hamilton resident, emergency physician and sometimes agitator who recently completed a BEng at McMaster University. He is fascinated by aspects of our culture that are harmful, but avoid serious public discussion.


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By kevin (registered) | Posted April 28, 2010 at 22:02:58

I with you, Ted. I got a baaaad feeling about this. Trading trees for concrete is always a bad deal.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 28, 2010 at 22:15:08

I have hiked lots on the bruce trail, here in our area and up by tobermory. Maybe not so much lately but it concerns me that this piece of nature is slowly losing ground.

Why can we not leave mother nature alone.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 28, 2010 at 22:48:49

This is called communication, and you guys suck at it

LOL. Great line.

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By Ok (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2010 at 23:31:27

trees or running water

pick one

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2010 at 08:32:33

I'll bite Ok.

How about:

Trees and running water (miraculously the water has been running all these years despite "root infiltration".)


Running water and erosion.

Pick one set.

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By desmond (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2010 at 09:23:29

Ok, you obviously make too much sense. How else can you explain your comment getting downvoted.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted April 29, 2010 at 09:34:49

How else can you explain your comment getting downvoted.

Hmmm, how about because it sarcastically oversimplifies a complicated subject the city has done a lousy job of communicating?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted April 29, 2010 at 13:18:05

Sound bites are much easier to state than actual reasons. Without access to the details as to why so many trees need to be cut, it's impossible for people to be anything but outraged when you hear "We're going to cut down hundreds of trees from your park".

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By A Tree (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2010 at 15:17:59

"Do one-metre-tall shrubberies count?"

They will not count many young trees or shrubs because it is easier not to and it will make their numbers sound better. But they do count from an environmental perspective.

The communication is lousy because there is no real interest in letting people know. By the time everything is figured out the cutting will begin.

Trees still have no value in this city except to firms hired to cut them down. We have no tree protection bylaw thanks to a weak city council and a strong developer inddustry. We have a woefully outdated city tree maintenance program as we would rather pave everything and sprawl than look after what we have. We have a largely uncncerned public unwilling to challenge destructive policies or even work together to protect their neighbourhood let alone their city leaving such efforts to the same few people/organizations again and again until they are worn out.

Our urban forest is sadly undersized and underappreciated. While water is essential our methods of aquiring it is artificial and can be changed. Losing trees is losing air, something we cannot live without especially in this polluted city, and trees take years to grow but minutes to kill.

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By Mathman (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2010 at 14:15:31

"Do one-metre-tall shrubberies count?"

Why of course they count. They count their leaves.

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By canbyte (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 20:43:15

A Tree said: "We have no tree protection bylaw thanks to a weak city council and a strong developer industry."

Careful here - this may be a blessing in disguise despite losing a bunch on this project. But you gotta think awhile to understand the logic.

But I thought there is a bylaw protecting large trees, in which case, they are doomed.

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