calgary

The head of the city’s bylaw services department says whoever chopped down numerous trees on public land behind two expensive homes in southwest Calgary will be on the hook for hefty fines.

About 20 trees and numerous shrubs were levelled by chainsaws in the high end neighbourhood of Britannia sometime between March 29 and the Easter weekend, said Bill Bruce.

It happened in a forested area behind two houses in the 4200 block of Britannia Drive, along the escarpment overlooking Riverdale Park and Sandy Beach Park on the other side of the Elbow River.

The trees obscured the view of the downtown skyline from the properties, one of which was recently listed for $2 million.

Bruce said it’s early in the investigation, but bylaw officers want to speak with a landscaping contractor in connection to the incident.

The probe will also focus on "those who may have benefited" from the removal of the trees. Officials might seek the maximum fine of $10,000 per tree from the culprits, plus replanting costs, Bruce said.

Karen Paul, the past president of the Britannia Community Association, got a call about a week ago from a concerned resident, she said.

It’s believed someone chopped the trees down in the middle of the night, using a chainsaw.

Paul said one of the neighbours closest to the area was on vacation at the time, which might explain why the destruction wasn’t noticed immediately.

"I can only tell you that circumstantially the properties behind which this occurred were recently sold. If you stand in the one that will most likely be slated for redevelopment, it looks to me like it was done to open up a city view," she said.