New Brunswick

Trees next to Centennial Park at risk to make way for development

A group of Moncton residents are banding together to see if anything can be done to protect the north edge of Centennial Park. Privately owned property was re-zoned in January, making way for a new development that some say will encroach on their peaceful enjoyment of Centennial Park.

City negotiated 20-metre buffer zone, but some say it needs to be bigger to protect park

Erik Gingles is holding a meeting on Wednesday to see if people have ideas as to how to make the buffer zone along the north side of Centennial Park bigger than 20 metres. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

A group of Moncton residents are banding together to see if anything can be done to protect trees lining the north edge of Centennial Park.

Privately owned property was re-zoned in January, making way for a new development that some say will encroach on their peaceful enjoyment of the municipal park.

A new building for Oulton College is part of the development planned to be built on the north side of Firebreak Road, which borders the park.

Erik Gingles grew up using the park and so have his children. He's worried the development will mean the removal of trees that are along the edge of the property line.

"The big concerns we saw these pink ribbons appear in the trees, much like we did last year when they started to appear for taking out the trees for the pool," Gingles said.

Some of trees pictured are on private property and within a zone set to be developed. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Last July, 200 trees were chopped down in Centennial Park to make way for a new pool. Gingles said it was sad to see such large, old trees be cut, and he doesn't want that to happen again.

But the marked section of land is private property. The, as of yet, undeveloped lot was rezoned to make way for a development. The city negotiated a buffer of 20 metres to add to the parkland, but seven residents wrote letters of concern to council asking for a larger cushion of land.

Sarah Anderson, senior city planner, addressed concerns by writing, "As it stands now because the City doesn't own the land north of Fire Break Road and because it is already zoned for development, we risk not having any kind of buffer (or just a very small one)."

The Centennial Park buffer zone negotiated by the City of Moncton is marked in green. (Submitted: City of Moncton)

Gingles has a different take. He said Moncton city council didn't have to agree to rezoning. 

"That's where I think the wheels kind of fall off," he said. "Council allowed the change in the rezoning to allow a school to be built, which means a building, which means a parking lot, which means a lot of things, which means taking out these trees."

Gingles created a group on social media, Friends of Centennial Park, for people to share pictures and ideas, but he's hoping to move in a different direction. He and other concerned park users are planning a meeting for Wednesday evening to talk about what, if anything, can be done to save the trees along Firebreak Road.

"If there is no one to say, 'OK, let's stop drawing lines, let's talk about this, let's decide what we should be doing with this park', then no one will."

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