'It’s sad': 132 trees to be chopped down at Parc Lafontaine
photo: Rob Lurie
The sounds of spring at Parc Lafontaine have always included birds chirping, runners’ shoes hitting the pavement, and tennis players whacking balls on the courts. But this year, park users have gotten used to a new sound -- a chainsaw.
It’s far from clearcutting -- Parc Lafontaine has 3,100 trees -- but the city is taking down 132 of them saying they could be dangerous.
“It’s always sad when you have to cut down trees in nature,” said Anna Horgsby, who was taking her five-month-old baby for their daily walk through the park. They pass by piles of branches -- all that's left of trees that, in some cases, stood for more than a hundred years.
In a statement, the city explained the trees were damaged by the ice storm of 1998. For more than two decades, city crews have been doing what they can to slow their decline, but officials say many of the trees are now hollow and could collapse.
“After 20 years of follow-up, many of the trees are weakened structurally and pose a risk to park users,” said Gabrielle Fontaine-Giroux, a spokesperson for the city.
While most park users say it’s unfortunate that so many trees will disappear from the park, they also say the city has no choice but to put safety first.
“It’s sad it happens but there’s a reason. They wouldn’t cut it down because it’s only a little dangerous,’ said Jeremy Pigeon-Lussier.
Pigeon-Lussier was happy to hear the city will replant 200 trees by 2025, but others still question whether a chainsaw is necessary.
“I think this idea of managing nature for the good of nature is often misguided," said Kai McCall, who regularly plays tennis at the park. “Let’s just let nature be nature, and if that means trees get old and die slowly that’s what trees do.”