North

FireSmart tree cutting in Whitehorse irks local homeowner

A Yukon homeowner says a fire control program is leaving her feeling burned. She says the government's removal of trees near her property came as a surprise.

Leslie van Tongeren loves the forest near her Whistle Bend home, and was surprised to see trees removed

'I think that if you're going to cut down trees like this, you should do it well before anyone purchases a house,' said Leslie Van Tongeren. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

When Leslie van Tongeren recently bought a home in Whitehorse's Whistle Bend neighbourhood, the nearby green space was a big attraction. 

"Every day I go for a walk, a run, a ski or bike on the trail," she said. "We moved into the Whistle Bend because the forest here is stunning."

It's also flammable. That's why some of the trees near her property have gone into the chipper, or been cut into firewood. 

A tree stump in the green belt in Whistle Bend. The tree removal is part of an effort by the Yukon government and the city of Whitehorse to reduce the danger of forest fires. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

It's part of an effort by the Yukon government and the city of Whitehorse to reduce the danger of forest fires. That includes clearing brush and cutting down trees.

Van Tongeren, however, is not impressed. She says the neighbourhood is now different than it appeared when she first visited the house. 

"I think that if you're going to cut down trees like this, you should do it well before anyone purchases a house. So that way, they're well informed about what they are buying," she said.

Laura Prentice, with Yukon government's land development division, says the "FireSmarting" is mandated for the subdivision, and the community association was notified.

But she acknowledges the government could be doing more to explain Yukon's FireSmart program. 

"We need to communicate in a different way, in a better way, to get information out to folks in Whistle Bend," Prentice said.

She says letters will be mailed to residents, and there will be an information session about FireSmart.

The cut wood, meanwhile, is up for grabs for anyone who wants it. 

The Yukon government says the FireSmart program is necessary to avoid risk. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

With files from Cheryl Kawaja

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