Nova Scotia

Protesters halt removal of trees in rural N.S. community

A group of protesters stopped provincial crews from removing trees lining a stretch of rural highway in the small community of Petite Riviѐre Bridge, N.S., Thursday morning.

Provincial officials say they'll organize public consultation

Protesters in the community of Petite Riviѐre Bridge, N.S., are shown preventing provincial crews from removing a stand of white ash trees. (Submitted by Peter Barss)

A group of protesters stopped provincial crews from removing trees lining a stretch of rural highway in Nova Scotia Thursday morning.

Peter Romkey lives a couple kilometres outside of Petite Riviѐre Bridge in Lunenburg County, N.S., and said he received a call early Thursday from another local telling him "they were cutting up the trees."

"I kind of knew what trees they were talking about because … [the province] talked about removing them a couple years ago."

The trees are mature white ash, according to Romkey. He said they're well-loved by the community.

Community members from around Lunenburg County organized early Thursday morning when they heard the white ash trees seen here were slated for removal. (Submitted by Peter Barss)

"There's this lovely little lane that's been here for … [probably] the last 50 or 60 years, and everybody comes to enjoy it," said Romkey.

He said that traffic slows as it turns the bend entering the small community on Highway 331, where the trees are found.

"These wonderful big trees have their branches spread across the road so it just makes a really nice setting as you drive into Petite Riviѐre."

Romkey said between 30 and 40 people turned out to protect the trees, which had been marked for removal with spray paint. 

Peter Barss, one of the people who came out to protest the trees being cut down, said there should be consultation with the community first. (CBC)

Peter Barss, who was among the people who protested the tree removal, said there was no public consultation prior to a decision being made to cut down the trees.

"If there is a safety issue ... then fair enough, but there should be public consultation," Barrs said.

Barss said he was pleased provincial crews decided not to cut any trees down.

"They're important because first of all, they're beautiful trees, they're old trees. Most of them, I would say, are well over 100 years old," he said.

"And why they're suddenly a problem now, nobody understands. But it's actually one of the most beautiful collection of old trees that I know of in this area."

Crews on Highway 331 left by mid-morning Thursday. (Submitted by Myra Barss)
 

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal said in an email that four trees were slated for removal from provincial property, but crews didn't proceed because of the protest.

"We agreed to pause our work until we can sit down with the community and have more fulsome conversations about the scope of the project. We look forward to those discussions."

The spokesperson said the trees were identified for removal because they were impacting visibility for motorists and driveway sight lines for vehicles entering the highway.

Romkey said he didn't believe the trees presented any safety concerns, and could remain in place, "without having to worry about branches or limbs falling over for another 100 years."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taryn Grant

Reporter

Taryn Grant is a Halifax-based reporter and web writer for CBC Nova Scotia. You can email her with tips and feedback at taryn.grant@cbc.ca

With files from Mary Lynk

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