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Sunday, July 14, 2024
Opinion: Cutting down Lakeshore tree isn’t the solution
David Israelson.

David Israelson
Special to The Lake Report

It is indeed a terrible tragedy that a motorist was killed earlier this month when his car hit a tree on Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It is especially sad that this is the second fatality in which a car hit the same tree, nearly one year after this most recent awful event.

It does not follow though, that “the tree has to go,” as The Lake Report’s managing editor Kevin MacLean wrote in last week’s newspaper, (editorial, “No more fatalities — cut down the tree“).

As MacLean himself concedes, “we are not sure what happened or why” in this most recent tragedy. “Any number of factors could be at play,” he says.

This is where the logic ends. Calling for action when one is not sure why will not make anything better.

Suggesting that this fatal crash is somehow the fault of a tree for being at the side of the road makes no sense — especially when the facts and information about what might have caused the accident are not available yet.

True, there is a 60 km/h speed limit on that stretch of Lakeshore.

Should the speed limit be lowered? Possibly — let’s consider that after we have all the facts.

It’s an inadequate response simply to argue that the legal speed limit is one “that many of us have trouble adhering to.” There’s a simple solution to that. Slow down. Obey the law.

It is arguable that if the tree on our Lakeshore Road were not there, a driver who misses the curve would “simply end up on a soft, marshy patch of greenery.” That is hypothetical. Where are the engineering studies that would back this up?

There are other solutions.

For example, in Port Colborne, on the shore road hugging Fort Erie, the other nearby Great Lake, there’s a stretch that goes through a small residential area that is festooned with speed-limiting obstacles and 40 km/h signs.

Why not consider something like this, rather than hacking down a tree?

This road section is not the only one where it is dangerous and where it would be safest if drivers slowed down. Should we cut down all the trees at all treacherous curves across the town?

It would be different, perhaps, if removing the large tree on Lakeshore could reverse the tragedies that happened on that road. It won’t.

Rather than a meaningless chainsaw gesture that’s based on no information and which won’t help anyone, let’s honour the memories of those who perished on our road with moves such as lowering the speed limit, posting visible warning signs and making sure that all of us obey the law.

David Israelson is a writer and non-practising lawyer who lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

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