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Residents of south Halifax streets slated for bicycle lanes are mobilizing against the possible removal of up to 125 trees.
On August 2, more than fifty attended a “town hall” meeting at Spencer House on Morris Street organized by the residents. Half came in person; half participated via Zoom. Organizers insisted that they live and walk in the affected areas whereas vehicles (cars and bicycles) drive through.
William Breckenridge, a resident of Schmidtville, gave an overview of the situation and showed which streets would be affected and which trees could be targeted.
Larry Haiven, also a resident and activist in Schmidtville and a retired professor of Management at Saint Mary’s University, showed a short slide show which focused on the facts:
- Residents do not oppose bike lanes; many of them are cyclists themselves; but they are very concerned about tree removal.
- HRM’s own site reckons that up to 125 trees could be removed for bike lanes. In fact in one option by HRM staff, 52 trees along South St near Dalhousie could come down.
- HRM staff have rejected other options for bike lanes such as putting them on wider and relatively treeless streets.
- With global warming ramping up, scientists and environmentalists are calling for more mature trees, not fewer, and preserving older trees as a way of providing a cooling canopy. The canopy helps to prevent “urban heat islands” on hot concrete city streets. The tree roots also catch the run off in extreme downpours.
Among the speakers was Lara Cusson, a café owner who lives on Morris St. Cusson insisted there had to be a united effort by Friends of Schmidtville, the Ecology Action Centre and the Halifax Cycling Coalition to both promote bike lanes and keep our trees.
Her views were echoed by others at the meeting. Questions and comments also came from people online at home.
Sue Uteck, Executive Director of the Spring Garden Area Business Association, said that making Morris a one-way street, which is part of one of the city’s plans, would be opposed strenuously by merchants on Spring Garden Rd as it would seriously impede the closing of Spring Garden for special events.
People at the meeting decided to increase pressure on HRM to save the trees. Most Haligonians were outraged when thirty trees were slashed and damaged by vandals in the Public Gardens. However, in this situation, up to four times more trees, mature trees, some more than 100 years old, could be cut down – not by individual vandals but by order of our elected officials.
Featured image: Aerial view of Schmidtville, Halifax, Nova Scotia. For more information on Schmidtville, and to see a great 6 minute video click here.