At least one Yellowknife couple is heartbroken after seeing thousands of trees cut down behind Parker Park off Finlayson Drive.
The city is behind the clear-cut – the intent is to create a firebreak to protect neighbourhoods from the threat of wildfire. In an e-mail, city spokesperson Richard McIntosh stated city worked with a contractor to FireSmart the area and in the process, a larger swath may be gone than anticipated.
“The amount of trees taken down was more than what was planned so work has been halted for the season,” he stated.
Dawn Collins and William Chueng, who live in the area, were walking their dogs in the area Wednesday. They said it was absolutely jarring to see the change.
Collins said she had already been to the area and had seen the wide swath of trees cut down but Chueng was seeing it for the first time.
“I was walking on the Range Lake Trail with my dogs and I heard the most awful sound,” said Collins. “I didn’t even know what it was but I knew it wasn’t a good sound … I kept away because I didn’t want to acknowledge what was happening. My neighbour told me be prepared for a big shock. I waited a couple of weeks, but when I came – oh my goodness. I was so devastated. I could feel it in the pit of my stomach.”
City spokesperson Richard McIntosh confirmed the city clear-cut the area in order to create a firebreak in case of wildfires.
Both Collins and Chueng said they understand the need to FireSmart the city, but wondered why they weren’t warned beforehand.
“They didn’t inform us they were doing this back here,” said Chueng. “There were beautiful trails that people use all the time. There were greats paths that people use all the time – beautiful in the winter and beautiful in the summer. It’s terrible.”
According to McIntosh, announcement of the work has been posted on the city’s website, advertised in the Capital Update and posted on social media. He advised work to remediate the area hasn’t begun yet.
“The city will be going into the area to remove the roots and debris and will be planting birch saplings,” he stated.
McIntosh added birch trees do not allow wildfires to crown – essentially travel quickly from tree top to tree top.
The majority of trees destroyed were spruce and jack pine, according to McIntosh.
He added work next summer will be outlined ahead of time as well on the city’s website, in the Capital Update and on social media.
He did not address by press time questions from Yellowknifer about why more trees were taken down than planned, whether the city had received any complaints from the public about the clear-cut and whether a permit was needed for the work.