In all, about 20 hectares of forest is being cut down to make way for the highway. (Shirley Gallant)

A P.E.I. First Nations leader would like to see trees being cut down for rerouting of the Trans-Canada highway west of Charlottetown used to help low-income Islanders.

Keptin John Joe Sark would like to see the wood given to low-income families who are able to burn wood to heat their homes.    "There's hundreds of cords of wood and I think they should have at least had some mind, since it is Crown land, to help some of the people living below the poverty line and on social assistance that could use some help in the winter time," said Sark.

"The larger lumber wood should be given to Habitat for Humanity."

Sark has taken his suggestions Opposition leader Olive Crane.

The provincial government says what happens to the wood is up to the contractor, Island Coastal. Steven Yeo, chief engineer for the Department of Transportation, said giving the value of the wood to the contractor lowers costs.

"It's up to the successful contractor to find markets for that," said Yeo.

"If they can sell it and make money, then the price that we get for the contract is lower. So actually it's cost savings to the department and the public."

Island Coastal has subcontracted two Island companies to cut down the 20 hectares of trees. The company said only about five per cent of the wood is lumber. The rest is chipped and sent to the energy from waste plant or being used for pulp off-Island.