New Brunswick

Odell Park disc golf controversy is a clash over visions

The controversy surrounding trees being cut in Fredericton’s Odell Park comes down to a clash over visions of how to use the space, says a wildlife ecologist.

Graham Forbes, a wildlife ecologist, asks if Odell Park had a master plan in place to help guide development

The controversy surrounding trees being cut in Fredericton's Odell Park comes down to a clash over visions of how to use the space, says a wildlife ecologist.

The city has removed several trees in the southside park in order to expand a disc golf course to 18 holes from nine.

Graham Forbes said he walked the woods in Odell Park on the weekend and took notes and measurements to follow up on the controversy over tree cutting there.

"It's a noticeable change but probably not damaging from an ecological slant," he said.

The city says expansion was always an option if the disc golf course was popular among residents.

The recreation activity may have proved to be popular among some in the city, but the decision to remove trees to expand the course has prompted opponents to form a new group called "Friends of Odell Park" to protest the cutting.

Forbes said he feels the controversy is more a conflict of values than a matter of rules being broken.

He said there are some people who don't like to see any kind of work in a forest because they consider it a place of peace and a place to escape into.

"We need to figure out how much recreation and infrastructure is too much, weighed against the value of peace and nature," he said.

Forbes said he wonders how much public consultation was done before the city decided to move forward with the disc golf expansion.

"What's the likelihood of this happening again? It also begs the question of how, why and under what rules this was allowed?" Forbes said.

"Is there a master plan in place?"

The city forester said last week that some of the small trees and underbrush that are being removed were damaged by post-tropical storm Arthur last year.

He said it's quite clear to him that the city is spinning when it says the clearing is part of its post-Arthur cleanup. It's not, he says.

"It's a sparse area to begin with. There was some loss of trees and some loss of habitat, but new ones," Forbes said.

"Some of the areas cleared are ... about 100 metres. The bigger questions are how much planning is in place and what are the rules for further tree removal."

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