Manitoba

City of Winnipeg investigates destruction of trees along median in Charleswood area

The City of Winnipeg is looking into replacing the close to two dozen trees that were destroyed along Roblin Boulevard over the weekend, while also investigating how it could have happened in the first place. 

23 trees in total lost after mover tried to get house down Winnipeg street

The City of Winnipeg is looking into replacing the trees that were damaged along Roblin Boulevard over the weekend. (Gary Solilak/CBC )

The City of Winnipeg is looking into replacing the close to two dozen trees that were destroyed along Roblin Boulevard over the weekend, while also investigating how it could have happened in the first place. 

A mover was granted a provincial permit to transport a home to a new location but several trees were cut down early Saturday morning before police arrived to oversee the move. 

The driver of the vehicle transporting the home was promptly charged with mischief over $5,000. 

That was not the end of it. After the city's forestry department assessed the situation, even more trees needed to be cut down because the house was stuck or because they were too badly damaged to save. 

In the end, 23 trees were lost because of the move. 

An aerial shot shows the extent of the damage. (Submitted by Ryan Cheale)

City of Winnipeg forester Martha Barwinsky said she hopes the trees can be replaced and is assessing the costs of replanting them in the same area. 

"Ideally it's always best to replace the trees at the same site. We're just in the process of evaluating the cost of those trees, and the cost of response for the cleanup and remediation that has to take place."

She said the city was not consulted by the province about the permit to move the home, but could have given some advice on an alternative route. 

A spokesperson for the province said that permits are only issued after they are reviewed by the city, and that it is the carrier's responsibility to ensure that the load will fit on whatever route they are transporting it on. 

The incident blew up on social media over the weekend. The area's city councillor Kevin Klein said he received dozens of emails, Facebook messages and texts about the incident. He said he was shocked when he heard about it. 

"I was flabbergasted at the sight. I've been trying to think of a reason why any reasonable person would take that approach," he said. 

"I just can't imagine who thought that was the right thing to do."

The City of Winnipeg says 23 trees were ultimately lost along Roblin Boulevard after a mover attempted to transport a house down the street. (Submitted by Ryan Cheale)

Klein thinks the city should pursue legal action against the moving company for the damage. But he also questions the city's decision to cut down more trees to get the house out. 

"Why would we damage and cut down more trees to facilitate a move that had already created so much damage?"

The moving company declined to comment when contacted by CBC News. 

Trees in peril 

Two years ago, Mayor Brian Bowman challenged Winnipeggers to help plant one million trees over the next 20 years as part of an initiative called the Million Tree Challenge. 

But this latest incident highlights how the city's existing trees are in peril, says Dorothy Dobbie, a Charleswood resident and longtime advocate for planting trees. 

She said the city's trees have been under a lot of stress in recent years, due to dry conditions, insects and storms — and once they're gone, they're extremely difficult to replace. 

"So trees that aren't being attacked have almost double the value," she said. 

She said trees do more than just beautify the city. They keep cities cooler in the summer, keep moisture in the ground and help mitigate pollution caused by automobiles that go by. 

"To me, trees are part of the infrastructure. They're just as important and much more difficult to replace than bridges and roads and sidewalks," she said. 

Barwinsky with the City of Winnipeg says the city currently has a pruning cycle of once every 30 years for trees, meaning once a tree in Winnipeg is pruned, it likely won't be pruned again for another 30 years. Ideally, it would be once every seven years, she said. 

"So it is definitely a challenge to keep up the maintenance of our trees."

With files from Sean Kavanagh

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