‘Those trees mean a lot to us’: Potential tree cutting in Crystal Beach halted

Several mature oak trees have been saved from the chopping block thanks in part to the Town of Fort Erie’s new tree bylaw and a neighbour who took a stand, both literally and figuratively.

On Wednesday, March 27, Crystal Beach resident Heidi Neal saw crews preparing to cut down several trees on a property near the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Glenspring Road. Among the trees that appeared in danger were six 300-year-old oaks, Neal said.

The land has been slated for development, Neal said, though she doesn’t believe any of the five lots have been sold.

“Once they’re gone, they’re gone,” Neal said of the trees.

She lives next door and said she moved to the area a few years ago in part because of the character of the neighbourhood and the lovely trees that populate the area. To stop the work, Neal said she stood under the trees to prevent crews from proceeding. Eventually a bylaw officer arrived and the work was halted.

An email from the Town’s bylaw department, forwarded by manager of communications Kevin Beauchamp, confirmed in broad strokes what took place and that the trees have been preserved.

“Bylaw staff were advised that there was some potential tree cutting in Crystal Beach and they attended the site,” the email said.

According to the email, when bylaw arrived they found a contractor on site ready to remove trees.

“While on-site staff also spoke with the property owner who agreed to not proceed at this time. An order to cease work was not issued since the owner has agreed to stop work,” the email said, adding that staff will continue to monitor the situation and work with the owner.

Fort Erie recently passed a strengthened tree bylaw. It includes several stipulations and requires permits, with some exceptions and exemptions, for property owners who want to cut down trees larger than 30 centimetres in diameter at breast height.

Neal said she’s never done anything like that before, but felt the need to protect the old oaks. She said they’re healthy trees and there’s nothing wrong with them, and while she said she accepts that growth and change is inevitable, she sees no reason to destroy a tree until construction is actually going to happen.

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