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'More concrete and parking': Critics concerned over Hawrelak Park trees after FOIP request

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Members of Edmonton's River Valley Conservation Coalition board say a freedom of information request shows the city plans to remove trees in Hawrelak Park to make room for infrastructure during the controversial three-year rehabilitation project at the park.

Eric Gormley and Raquel Feroe say the 450-page document shows why each of the 220 trees will be removed.

"They put a lot more effort into manicuring it than maybe keeping it natural or thinking about what the natural amenities are in the park," Gormley said.

“We see for example that an Elm tree is being taken out to expand parking. We’re losing trees not just because of infrastructure needs but a desire to expand infrastructure so more concrete and parking,” Faroe told CTV News Edmonton.

In a written statement, the city's branch manager of infrastructure delivery says some trees are being removed to accommodate new infrastructure, and others are safety hazards.

“Some of these areas are narrow and the only way to accommodate the path is the removal of trees," Craig Walbaum wrote. "Another area is the amphitheatre where improvements to safety and accessibility will be made. Trees near the seating area and perimeter create mobility and safety issues which will be addressed in this project.”

He added the tree preservation plan is still being finalized, and the city is still exploring options.

Feroe says that's not a good enough answer.

"I would like the project to be paused and reconsidered in its entirety. Short of that, I’d love to meet with the contractor and see if they have any room to move on some of this nonsense.”

Council is expected to get an update about the work at the park in May, which will include details about all the trees impacted by the rehabilitation project.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Marek Tkach. 

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