Tree cutting for Lansdowne development to resume Monday, city confirms

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By Mark Brownlee, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA ­— Tree cutting was to proceed at Lansdowne Park Monday as the federal government overruled an employee who had said last week the work should be stopped.

Councillor David Chernushenko, who represents the area, had been at the site starting at 7 a.m. Monday and said he wasn't leaving until the federal government's concerns were addressed.

In the early afternoon he said he was satisfied that there were no more problems from the department responsible, Environment Canada.

"There doesn't seem to be anything standing in the way of the cutting starting here," he said, standing in front of the trees on Holmwood Avenue that were to be cut.

Chernushenko said Sunday he was unsure if the cutting would proceed because of an email forwarded onto him that had been written by an Environment Canada employee.

An email provided by the city showed that employee had made a mistake.

"This statement was erroneous to the extent this Department doesn't regulate tree cutting activities," wrote Sheldon Jordan, the director general of Environment Canada, in an email to city staff.

In announcing the work would resume, the city said the tree cutting would "proceed with caution to ensure that the tree removal plan is in full compliance with the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act."

The roughly 60 trees are to be knocked down as part of the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park, which will help make way for residential and commercial space.

An Environment Canada official and a biologist from EllisDon, the construction company, were at the scene Monday.

As of around 12:30, cutting had not yet resumed.

About 35 protesters were at the site Monday morning, but that numbered had dwindled by noon until the protesters were outnumbered by media.

The tree cutting began last Tuesday, but was abruptly halted because the city had not informed residents of the date when they were to be knocked down. The removal was then rescheduled for Monday morning.

EllisDon later apologized for cutting the trees down when they weren't supposed to.

The tree removal is part of the plan to redesign Lansdowne Park so that new elements, such as commercial buildings, can be introduced.

The city needs to knock down roughly 60 trees so it can begin "remediation" of the surrounding soil, wrote city spokesman Michael FitzPatrick in an email last week. That is part of work that needs to be done before crews can move the Horticulture Building. City manager Kent Kirkpatrick said last month the building needs to be relocated before any redevelopment of Lansdowne can begin.

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