Some people in St. John's are upset with the provincial government's decision to cut down some of the oldest trees in the city without notifying the public.

The trees were cut down Thursday as part of a multi-million dollar restoration of the Colonial Building and its surrounding grounds.

Coun. Ron Ellsworth said the public should have been notified of the government's decision to chop the trees down to make the changes at the site.

Sandy Collins

Tourism Minister Sandy Collins says the renovations at Colonial Building, including cutting down the trees, were part of an approved plan from the province's heritage foundation. (CBC)

"I think the general public are looking for information and looking at being involved in the process from the beginning, not driving down the street and finding these changes have taken place," he said.

According to government, the trees were cut down in an effort to do a historical restoration at the site.

Tourism Minister Sandy Collins said while people may be upset now, the plan it still a good one.

"We want to put it back to it's original state. Trees weren't a part of that, a fence was," said Collins.

To tree or not to tree?

Some old photographs of the Colonial building show both trees and a fence, but Collins said government is staying true to the historical appearance of the building.

"The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador has approved, reviewed and approved, all design with regards to the landscape as well as the structural design of the building," he said.

However, Liberal MHA Tom Osborne said the historical significance argument doesn't mean much.

"Original design? Is he gonna put gas lamps in there and take the electricity out? Remove the plumbing? There was a wooden fence around that site in the original design. These are heritage trees," said Osborne.

However, Ellsworth said while some people may not be pleased that the trees are now history themselves, it was unlikely they would have survived the rest of the renovations planned for the area.

"The amount of damage being done to the roots of these trees, and the life cycle of these trees, the trees wouldn't [have] survived the project design going here now, so the decision was made by the province with input from the city to remove the trees," said Ellsworth.