'They got murdered': anger after decades-old cherry trees destroyed in Prince Rupert, B.C.
Trees were chopped by contractors working on federal government property
Residents of Prince Rupert, B.C., are outraged after contractors working on federal government property destroyed several long-standing cherry trees in an effort to "modernize" the landscaping.
The trees stood next to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans office in downtown Prince Rupert.
On Friday, several trees were removed while the rest were aggressively pruned, leaving just the trunks behind.
"They got murdered," said Dennis Garon, a retired forester who watched as chainsaws were taken to the trees.
"A couple more weeks, and they would have been in full bloom."
According to Public Services and Procurement Canada, the trees were removed as part of a landscaping improvement project for the area.
"The intent of the redesign is to modernize the landscaping," said Dan del Villano, regional manager of communications for Public Works and Government Services Canada.
"We are looking at replanting the site, possibly with a native species that is disease-and-pest tolerant."
Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain said the city had been given no prior information about the removal of the trees, and that city hall had received numerous inquiries and complaints about why they were taken away, prompting him to take to Facebook to inform residents it was a federal government decision.
Garon counted the rings of the stumps and estimated the trees to be about 75 years old.
He believes they were among those donated to Prince Rupert by Shotaro "Tom" Shimizu, a Japanese immigrant to Prince Rupert who opened a hotel in 1915.
Shimizu's grandson, Gregory, also said the trees were part of his grandfather's donation to the city, alongside others given to the City of Edmonton where Shotaro Shimizu moved following his release from an internment camp during the Second World War.
With files from George Baker