Fredericton area residents are being told to be prepared for a "very aggressive" tree-trimming program by NB Power along its easements in the city.
The initiative comes on the heels of post-tropical storm Arthur, which uprooted trees as well as sent trees and limbs crashing into power lines. The Fredericton area was hardest hit by the July 5 storm, with tens of thousands of NB Power customers in the capital area losing electrical service. Some have yet to see it restored.
Fredericton's director of public safety, Wayne Tallon, met with NB Power officials Wednesday and is bracing city residents to expect a lot more trees to come down.
"They're proposing that they embark on a very aggressive vegetation pruning maintenance program in their utility easements," said Tallon. "So you're going to see a lot more work being done behind homes and trying to clear the paths underneath the power lines and around the power lines as well."
The city backs NB Power's proposed plan, said Tallon.
"We endorse that program. We believe that's the way to go, and that's the proper way of doing the right maintenance work to prepare for the future."
In June, NB Power announced it was increasing its tree maintenance budget to $5.8 million this year, which is about $1 million more than last year.
That funding increase came after back-to-back ice storms in December left 88,000 customers in southern and central New Brunswick without electricity for as long as 11 days.
"Trees make our province a beautiful place to live, but they are also the leading cause of power outages in New Brunswick," said NB Power president Gaëtan Thomas at the June announcement of the funding increase.
"Trees and branches falling into power lines during severe weather caused about 30 per cent of unplanned outages during the last two years."
NB Power's tree-trimming budget is to increase to $8 million in 2015-16, Thomas has subsequently stated.
The City of Fredericton estimates it lost 4.000 trees to Arthur. That number does not include trees on private property in the city.
Tallon says the removal of trees that could cause property or personal damage is almost complete and a second sweep will check for trees that were weakened by Arthur's winds and rain.
After tree removal is complete, the city will begin removing more than 4,000 stumps, said Tallon.