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Sunday, July 14, 2024
Tree at site of fatal car crashes cut down by region
Workers from Safe Tree Ltd. took down the Lakeshore Road mature tree on June 19, starting with individual branches before removing the base of the tree. A crowd gathered to watch the cutting. Julia Sacco

The notorious Lakeshore Road tree at the site of two deadly car crashes has been taken down. 

Safe Tree Ltd., a tree removal service, arrived at the location across from the Niagara Lakeshore Cemetery around 8 a.m. Wednesday, and by noon, the mature maple tree was gone. 

On June 5, a young man died when his car hit the tree, almost one year after a 49-year-old woman died when her small SUV also struck the tree head-on.

Memorials were removed from the tree before it was taken down.

Ivan Fredette, president of Safe Tree, said Niagara Region officials took all of the memorial items for safekeeping and will contact family members to return them.

The region’s spokesperson, Janet Rose, confirmed this in an email, saying that the memorial items will be returned if requested. 

“The memorial items removed for the work today were collected and safely stored according to this practice,” she said.

“We have been contacted, by rightful owners, about memorial items removed today and are coordinating their return.”

Fredette added that Safe Tree is also working with the region to ensure that a memorial is put up nearby.

The mood from onlookers was solemn while the tree was being removed, as many watched in silence. 

Family members of the two victims were present during the removal, though they did not want to talk with a reporter.

Shirley Madsen, who lives a short distance away on Lakeshore Road, watched as the tree was removed, branch by branch. 

Madsen, whose own property has been damaged by errant vehicles, said removing the tree is the wrong move.

“The tree has been there for 50 years. The tree didn’t cause the accident. Drivers and cars did,” she told The Lake Report.

Many others feel the same way, she added, and would rather see lower speed limits or the addition of stop signs on Lakeshore Road rather than cut down a mature tree. 

A post Madsen made in the Facebook group NOTL 4 All on Wednesday morning regarding the trees’ removal received more than 50 comments, many of which agreed with Madsen. 

Debbie Mageean, a resident of Old Town and active member in the Facebook group, agrees that the tree is not the problem. 

Mageean has around 20 years of experience as an ambulance medic, a firefighter and an RCMP auxiliary constable and says she has seen countless similar accidents, all of which were at the driver’s fault.

“I’ve seen it dozens of times, people wrapped around trees and power poles and everything,” she said. 

As an alternative, Mageean thinks that more enforcement may possibly be the answer. 

Scott Fraser, the associate director of transportation for the region, said the tree, located just a few feet from the pavement, needed to be removed before any further safety precautions are installed at the site.

“The region has been assessing road safety conditions in this area for some time and is completing a full review of all trees in the area, including possible removal or protection through the addition of guiderails,” he said in an email to The Lake Report. 

“The maple tree would prevent (the) installation of (a) guiderail, so it needs to be removed for any of the potential safety improvement options.”

juliasacco@niagaranow.com

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