Sean Gallagher

Protest takes root as 30th Avenue trees axed

City of Vernon moves ahead with revitalization project on main street

Roaring chainsaws were drowned out by angry residents in downtown Vernon Monday.

Some people were shocked to see trees being chopped down as the first phase of revitalization of 30th Avenue from 33rd to 35th streets.

“I just about fell over when I saw what they were doing,” said one woman.

Another woman marched over to the contractors and blasted them for cutting down all of the trees.

City officials insist there was no choice but to remove the trees, some of which are 30 years old.

“We went through a process to see if we could keep the trees with the new (road) design but they would have wound up in the middle of the sidewalk,” said Mark Dowhaniuk, infrastructure engineer.

“They would have impeded pedestrian traffic.”

Dowhaniuk says some of the trees were also in poor condition, and they will be replaced with trees that are at least 10 feet tall.

“New trees are definitely a large portion of the landscaping budget.”

Dowhaniuk says merchants were also contacted prior to the trees being cut down Monday.

The revitalization project will see new water and sewer services installed underground and the road surface upgraded. There will also be decorative lighting, benches and landscaping.

Foot traffic is permitted during construction and businesses within those two blocks remains open.

Vehicles are being detoured around the area.

“It’s an adjustment for everyone and we’re making sure the contractor has put up the signage that needs to be up,” said Dowhaniuk.

The $2.4 million-project is expected to be wrapped up by the end of June.

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