Calgary bylaw is investigating after a grove of trees in a southwest natural area were illegally cut down.
Ashley Henrickson was surprised to see the area of trees next to a city pathway near the intersection of 25 Avenue and Erlton Street SW.
“It’s quite a sight. As soon as you turn the corner you can see a huge swath of trees cut down right beside the bridge. I can’t imagine why someone would do it,” Henrickson said.
“It’s a really popular area, just down from the Repsol Centre. Lots of people enjoy walking along the river and it’s a shame to see our shared spaces vandalized like this.”
Posted in the area was a notice saying it was the subject of an active investigation.
Julie Guimond, Urban Forestry lead with the City of Calgary confirmed that Calgary Bylaw officers are investigating. Guimond, however, couldn’t provide details on the investigation.
Due to the location, it not only affects the city’s urban canopy, but the riparian area along the Elbow River. Part of the area is provincially owned, so the province is also aware of the situation.
“What’s unique in this scenario is because it’s a natural area, and riparian, and the nature of the species that were cut, is they will probably regenerate,” Guimond said.
“We’re doing a bit more of that assessment, so we don’t have thost details right now.”
Guimond said they believe at this time the trees were smaller Manitoba maples that were chopped.
Natural area trees
Guimond said that the trees in these areas often naturally propagate from seeds in other area trees. In some cases, they will be there because of restoration work the city has done in the riparian area.
She said according to the latest information provided other city units, this area wasn’t under active restoration.
The penalty under the city’s Tree Protection Bylaw for removing or pruning a public tree without a permit is $500. Remove the bark and it’s $300. If you fail to comply with an enforcement order, tack on another $1,000. Guimond said, however, in these cases, bylaw will often opt for education first, before enforcement.
“Through the investigation, those determinations will come about whether there’s a decision to go the route of fines or more of an education route,” Guimond said.
Situations like this aren’t common, Guimond said. They’ve had trees damaged because a car drove into them or trees are cut down due to development. The city handles those case-by-case.
It’s also more common to see pruned branches and not entire tree stalks chopped down.
Guimond also confirmed that the act wasn’t mistakenly done by city crews cleaning up around city pathways. Though, they will, when warranted, prune along pathways if branches become an obstruction.
Henrickson is happy there’s a city investigation.
“I would be really interested to know why someone cut down the trees, but I assume it will remain a mystery,” she said.
“It is great to see that the City is looking into it, hopefully they will be able to find out what happened and also support the growth of new trees along the path.”