By: John Symon – mtltimes.ca
Environmentalists appear to have won a temporary stay of execution for five mature silver maple trees on Meadowbrook Golf Course after a confrontation with tree cutters employed by Hydro Quebec. Workers intended to cut down the trees early in the morning on March 31, but Montreal West resident, Louise Chenevert, sat down in front of one of the trees and refused to move. Both Global TV and The Times were present while Hydro workers desisted, took away their equipment and left the site.
“First workers said they would only cut two trees, and I was sort of OK with that,” explained a rain-soaked Chenevert. “One of those two trees is rotten, but the rest are healthy. I thought that was a compromise measure. Then they said they would cut three, then four, then five. How can their orders change four times in 30 minutes?”
A few days earlier Chenevert received a letter from Hydro advising that “vegetation control” would take place on the golf course in the next few days. What miffed Chenevert is that her name, as a member of a committee or residents working with Hydro, appeared at the bottom of the letter, endorsing the tree cut. “I didn’t endorse that!” she exclaimed.
Andy Dodge, another local Montreal West resident, also saw his name on this letter, but did not endorse the cut. He explained that four of the five trees are in great shape, and only one needed to be cut. He is also frustrated, like Chenevert, from sitting on the committee “that tried to negotiate with Hydro.”
“We tried to get them to come to reason. You don’t cut down trees just because they are in the way. These trees provide the life blood for the whole area. They can be trimmed, but you don’t have to cut down. They also drink the water off the green and block the noise and pollution from the train tracks here. They also provide for a pleasant setting for the golf course.”
Chenevert became involved with the issue in 2015 after noticing markings on many trees near a Hydro Quebec servitude with paint on them indicating they were destined to be cut. The purported reason for the cut is to prevent arcing of electricity from the power lines through vegetation to the ground, but The Times has heard contradictory evidence on this.
The situation is complicated because the concerned residents are mainly from Montreal West while the golf course is partly in the Montreal borough of Lachine and partly in the town of Cote St Luc. The golf course rents the land from a development company, Groupe Pacific. Chenevert relates receiving contradictory information as to who ordered the cutting and why.
Chenevert also cites a recent email from Montreal West councillor Julie Tasker-Brown recounting how Meadowbrook golf course management says that they “cut down about 100 trees and have no plans to replant.” The Times understands this to be on the Cote St. Luc portion of the golf course. The communications officer for Cote St Luc, Darryl Levine, told The Times that a permit would be needed to cut that many trees, but no permits had been applied for by the golf course.