Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Residents upset by plow damage to trees

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AFTER city plows sideswiped trees in Riverview last week, some residents awoke to their own version of a nightmare on Elm Street.

On a tree near the corner of Casey Street and Ashland Avenue, bark and wood were scraped off in a foot-long gash.

Along Fisher Street, elm trunks were gouged as though a blade had cut through them.

The worst damage is at the corner of Casey and Balfour Avenue, where an oak tree is missing a chunk the size of a large dinner plate.

About 10 trees were damaged during careless snowplowing overnight Thursday.

Inspectors and foresters from the City of Winnipeg have been on site to inspect and photograph the damage.

Resident Brad Bayer first saw the damage while driving his daughter to school.

"As we drove farther on different streets we saw more and more gouges. Every year we band our trees in the neighbourhood," said Bayer, referring to tanglefoot bands that prevent cankerworms.

"I was just disappointed to see that the city crews didn't take as much care as we do to the city-owned boulevard trees."

Bayer grew up in St. Boniface, where he said you couldn't throw a football in the streets because the tree canopy was so thick. He said he's saddened to see the tree population decline.

"There have been so many knocks this winter in the way the city has cleaned the streets," said Bayer. "This is just another example. I'm just disappointed in the way the guys who are running the front-end loaders or the graders that they aren't taking care enough to not hit the trees."

City forester Martha Barwinsky said although the trees were damaged, they can often heal themselves.

"Any mechanical damage to a tree is not good, it's detrimental to the tree," said Barwinsky. "But also, that kind of damage is not repairable."

Some people have mentioned painting over the gashes, referring to a process using pruning seal or tree paint to close open wounds on the tree's trunk. But Barwinsky said that would not help the tree heal.

"The tree does utilize its own resources to close off whatever damage it's incurred to protect the rest of the tree," she said.

Residents of the Riverview neighbourhood noted they have a strong attachment to trees.

"It's just such a shame," said Lisa Chisholm. "We've worked so hard to have such nice trees. It's a draw for people who buy here. And we try to take care of them and band them. It'd be nice to see them taken care of."

Mimi Raglan, a Balfour resident for 13 years, said she is sad because the trees are the main reason she lives in Riverview.

"This is our neighbourhood. This is why we like our neighbourhood, because of the old trees," said Raglan.

"I'm very sad. It's upsetting and it's not good for the neighbourhood."

steph.crosier@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 13, 2013 B1

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Updated on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 9:28 AM CDT: replaces photo

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