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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Aging, deteriorated trees can be a hazard, resident says
An aging tree on town property, which residents warned the municipality about, fell on Byron Street last week and could have seriously hurt someone, resident Jim Garrett says. SUPPLIED

Jim Garrett was hosting his grandsons and his daughter for a family birthday one night last week when the power went out in his home.

Garrett home on Byron Street was one of only four houses to go dark on April 17 about 6:30 p.m. after an aging tree on town property came crashing down.

NOTL Hydro president Tim Curtis said hydro workers arrived on scene to cut back enough of the tree to restore power after bad weather knocked it down. 

Removing the tree falls on the shoulders of the property owner, he said, and town staff confirmed the tree was on town-owned land. 

Garrett said he was concerned the tree had been left standing despite some neighbours calling the town to complain about its deteriorating condition.  

He wondered if the town’s tree bylaw protects trees at the expense of people.

Town staff did not answer questions about the complaint history for the tree prior to deadline.

“It’s quite a pedestrian area. And that tree should never have been allowed to remain there,” Garrett said of the neighbourhood near Fort George.

“I mean, it’s pretty dangerous that it came right across the road like that,” he added. He credited the NOTL Hydro workers for doing “an amazing job” in getting the power restored quickly.

He said his daughter, Tiffany Peers, arrived with her sons Hunter and Alden at about 6:10 p.m., a few minutes before the tree was blown down.

The bylaw prohibits property owners from damaging or destroying trees on private property.

To get an exemption permit, residents must provide an arborist’s report showing the tree is hazardous or dead.

“If you have to take down a tree, then replant a new one,” he said.

The bylaw also says permits can be issued on the condition that the tree owner provides a replanting or replacement plan.

However, since the tree was on public land, it is not subject to the same regulations as the private tree protection bylaw, fire chief Jay Plato said in an email.

Town operations director Darren MacKenzie said the staff check for tree health during routine trimmings and while on road patrol.

“Before being cut down, a tree must be deemed dead, infected with something that will cause premature death, or pose a danger to the public or a homeowner’s safety,” he said.

The town uses qualified professionals to assess a tree’s health.

MacKenzie said the town has a large number of older trees to look after and appreciates people who call in to alert staff of potential safety issues.

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