New Brunswick

Fredericton to cut 4 diseased elm trees in downtown

Four mature trees with Dutch Elm disease will be cut and removed this week from downtown Fredericton.

None of the trees are located in Officer's Square, says city official

City staff will remove three diseased elm trees from the Garrison District and one at the Centennial Building.

Four mature trees with Dutch elm disease will be cut and removed this week from downtown Fredericton. 

The city doesn't usually announce its tree-removal plans, but the fate of downtown trees has become an issue since the city decided it would cut down 19 of them at Officers' Square. 

Three of the diseased elms are in the historic Garrison District but not in Officers' Square, said parks and trees manager Don Murray. The fourth is near the Centennial Building. 

All four trees are on land owned by the city. 

A proposed $8.9 million project in Officers' Square that would see a new skating oval, a permanent stage and other upgrades added to the downtown park created outrage among residents when they learned how many trees would have to go. 

Five of those trees were cut down before the city put the project on hold.

"Normally, we wouldn't announce the cutting of elms due to disease," Murray said in a release. "But this year there's been so much discussion about the elms in Officers' Square and the idea that they are somehow disease-resistant. 

"We felt it was necessary to communicate clearly about these removals, as three of them are nearby in other parts of the Garrison."

4 trees in 3 locations

Two of the trees are on the grounds of the Justice Building, and one is on Queen Street next to the Soldiers' Barracks.

The city will cut down the four trees in co-operation with the province over the next few weeks. 

"It's unfortunate when we have to remove them," Murray said. "But the disease remains viable in dead and dying elms and can quickly spread to nearby trees. Prompt removal is necessary.  And once the trees are dead, they pose a safety hazard as well."

Murray said the removal is required to protect remaining elms in the urban forest as part of the Dutch Elm Disease Sanitation Program.

Because of the program, the city has retained many of its large elm trees by quickly cutting and removing diseased trees. The removal protects the remaining trees from infection.

Although many of the elms are old and have avoided infection, they are not resistant to the disease, Murray said.

The number of diseased trees has fluctuated in recent years. Seventy-three were cut in 2015, but the number rose to 265 the next year. Last year, the city cut down 201 elms.