Crews were busy again Tuesday as the County of Red Deer is following through with removal of trees along both sides of Range Road 282 west of Red Deer.

County mayor defends move to clear trees

Red Deer County bent its rules to save trees along a scenic stretch of road being brushed for safety, says the mayor.

Red Deer County bent its rules to save trees along a scenic stretch of road being brushed for safety, says the mayor.

Jim Wood defended the county’s maintenance project on Range Road 282 where residents are fuming that a treasured line of black poplars is falling to the mulchers.

Residents along the route between Hwy 11 and 11A, about five km west of Red Deer, complained this week that contractors are slashing far more than the county agreed to following a meeting last week.

Not so, said Wood, who suspects there was s0me misunderstanding about how many of the trees could be preserved while clearing sight lines and improving safety along the three-km stretch of gravel road.

“We did in fact make a compromise in this case, which is not a normal thing for us to do when we do our roads. We try to keep our road right-of-ways clear.”

The county was willing to find a middle ground because of the beauty of the stretch of road and in recognition of the area’s historical connection to the trees that gave Poplar Ridge its name, said the mayor.

To preserve some of the natural beauty of the route, the county agreed to keep a strip of trees, on average 30- to 60-cm wide, and up to a maximum 1.5 metres, along fence lines. Normally, trees and brush would be cut back to the fence or the edge of the right-of-way with no buffer.

HomeHus Antiques owner Susan Manyluk said her understanding was the county had agreed to cut back only about 1.5 metres from the road, not leave that as the maximum width of the tree belt next to the fence line.

Wood said when meeting with residents last Tuesday, the county was clear that the 1.5 metres referred to the tree strip that would be remaining.

“Anyway, miscommunications can happen and that’s no doubt what’s happened in this particular instance.”

The trees and bushes along this road had grown so thick that vehicles couldn’t pass without risk of scratching their paint, he said. Sight lines made it difficult to pull onto the road and would give a driver almost no time to avoid wildlife emerging from the brush, he said.

Wood said the county has received complaints about the state of this road and elsewhere in the county the brushing program has been popular.

“It’s unfortunate that we have one road that can create feelings of hardship for some of our residents.”

Bottom line, the clearing effort is about safety, said the mayor, adding many of the trees are nearing the end of their lifespan and risked toppling.

“Because we cut some trees down it doesn’t mean we’re anti-environment or anti-trees,” he said. “We have a responsibility to ensure that our roads are in fact safe to drive on, that they are maintained properly, and that we have the ability to maintain them at a reasonable cost.”

For residents, suggestions that they could have lost more trees offers little consolation.

Brian DeMaree has lived on the road for 22 years. His wife Sherry grew up in the house they live in, the third generation to live there.

DeMaree said he hadn’t seen a one- to 1.5-metre strip of trees left anywhere. He believes the county could have made the road safer without hacking and slashing so deeply.

“It looks like a war zone. It’s a horrible mess,” he said.

“I’m just really disappointed in what they’re doing. There’s no reason to go all the way back.”

Manyluk has had messages of support from all over the county and hopes the county will rethink how it handles future road clearing plans.

“My road is ruined. “Maybe someone else’s road can be saved if we carry the torch a little further.”

A Facebook page has even been set up called Save the Trees, Save the Bees, which refers to the bee populations living in the trees along the road and which are important for canola pollination.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

RCMP investigate suspicious package in downtown Red Deer

Part of downtown Red Deer was closed to traffic due to a… Continue reading

Ottawa’s apathy on rural crime ‘outrageous,’ say central Alberta MPs

Recent parliamentary committee report on rural crime inadequate say MPs

The future’s exciting, but also a bit scary, for Red Deer’s high school grads

Concerns about job prospects, high cost of education expressed

Blind calf finds friendship in dog in central Alberta

Heaven and Sweetpea are best buddies. Heaven, a calf who was born… Continue reading

Walk raises awareness of victims of domestic violence

Central Alberta men and boys will walk a mile in high heels… Continue reading

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Seniors: The unheard melodies

The sights and sounds around us enable us to experience our world.… Continue reading

Police find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River

RCMP find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River Red… Continue reading

North Vancouver RCMP seek skier whose pole caused brain injury to B.C. teen

VANCOUVER — A North Vancouver family is joining with RCMP to urge… Continue reading

Canadian ‘Aladdin’ star eyes diverse career championing homegrown talent

TORONTO — Canadian “Aladdin” star Mena Massoud says his wild carpet ride… Continue reading

Supreme Court will tuck into UberEats case about drivers’ benefit rights

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will help decide whether a… Continue reading

Speech from the throne: Read the entire text outlining UCP priorities

The following is the speech from the throne, read Wednesday in the… Continue reading

Canada’s Rebecca Marino drops second-round French Open qualifying match

PARIS — Canada’s Rebecca Marino fell just short in a second-round qualifying… Continue reading

Most Read