Rupertites were aghast on Friday morning when they witnessed saws being taken to cherry trees at the corner of Fourth Street and Second Avenue.
So far, three of the seven trees next to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans buildings on that block have been removed, with no explanation or warning being given.
“Those trees have been here longer than the people have been in office,” said Lorne Stewart, who was one of several observers voicing their displeasure. “I’ve had my lunch break out there for years under the shade tree.”
“We’re very, very upset,” said Charlotte Rowse, another observers at the scene. “I think my dad helped plant them. We were so proud of them.”
The trees were removed by contractors as part of a landscaping project to improve the area by Public Services and Procurement Canada.
“The intent of the redesign is to modernize the landscaping,” said Dan del Villano, regional manager of communications for Public Works and Government Services Canada. “We are looking at replanting the site, possibly with a native species that is disease and pest-tolerant.”
Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain posted a message on facebook stating that the city is not responsible for the removal of the trees as they are located on federal government property, and the city was not informed about the work being done.
Turn to page 4 to learn the history of the Japanese cherry trees.