City of Moncton asks people not to cut branches for holiday decor
City officials says Centennial Park and Irishtown Nature Park aren't "decoration stores"
The city of Moncton is asking residents not to treat parks like decoration stores.
Dan Hicks, the director of parks and leisure operations for the city, said he's aware of incidents in two local parks where residents have been cutting pine branches and taking them home.
One incident happened at Centennial Park. And Hicks said someone witnessed branches being cut in Irishtown Nature Park, and alerted the city.
Irishtown Nature Park is one of Canada's largest urban parks and is designated as a nature park, meaning the land is permanently set-aside for the enjoyment of residents but also for the conservation of biological diversity.
While some may think it's harmless, Hicks says it's stealing.
"It's theft, it's destruction of property, it's not your property you shouldn't take it home so that's the first thing." Hicks said.
"The second thing is these are nature areas, these parks are for everyone, they're the lungs of the city and overall we'd like to see these small trees eventually become big trees and be contributors to our ecosystems so that's why these spaces are here and protected."
Hicks said cutting branches can damage the ecosystem.
"Each one of these trees has a function. They're here to provide ecological benefits and services to the park and ultimately to the citizens and the four legged citizens that also use them for food and shelter and everything else." he said.
Hicks said the pandemic is making it hard for many people as the holiday season approaches, but he says there are alternatives to cutting branches off trees in a park.
"We all want to celebrate the festive season and it's a difficult year for that for sure but there are a lot of really good local sustainably produced festive decor products that people can find in their local area. You don't have to go far, we're in New Brunswick." he said.
Hicks said people can also apply for a permit to harvest wreath tips and branch materials on Crown land through the provincial Natural Resources Department. The fee is $20 and the landowner's permission is required.
If someone is caught cutting branches in a park, Hicks said the RCMP can be called and charges could be laid.
He said if anyone sees this happening, they should report it to the city.
Hicks said the parks are there for everyone's enjoyment, not "just for your living room."