News / Calgary

Plan for new trees in Calgary park cut after neighbours complain

Brentwood residents say they're worried about an increase in crime accompanying the new trees.

Ian Burgess, a resident of a street that borders an unnamed park in Brentwood, points to some of the sightlines that will be reduced in the neighbourhood when the trees grow. He said that reduced visibility would allow for increased crime.

Mathew Silver/ For Metro

Ian Burgess, a resident of a street that borders an unnamed park in Brentwood, points to some of the sightlines that will be reduced in the neighbourhood when the trees grow. He said that reduced visibility would allow for increased crime.

As the old adage goes, there are two sides to every story.

ReTree YYC, a city project dedicated to restoring the Calgary tree population, came to a sudden halt on Monday when residents of a Brentwood community began protesting the addition of 15 new trees in their local park.

And while you may have already taken a stance on the controversy, Ian Burgess, a resident of the neighbourhood, insists that you just haven’t heard the whole story.

“If you lived here and had your truck broken into a couple times, or had people prowling around your property, you would be concerned if the sightlines were reduced,” he said.

Burgess said crime has been a consistent problem in the neighbourhood, and mentioned that just two weeks ago he received an email from the Calgary Police Service warning residents about a recent spate of break and enters in the area.

He also mentioned that residents were frustrated by a lack of public engagement about the project.

“Ninety per cent of politics are local. If something is going to affect residents on a certain street, you’re going to want them to be engaged,” he said.  

According to him, only one person in the neighbourhood knew about the planting.  

A string of emails that was provided to Metro showed that even the president of the Brentwood Community Association was unaware.

Jeannette Wheeler, leader of the urban forestry department, offered a much different account.

“We did quite a bit of engagement with that community. They overwhelmingly came back and said we want trees planted here,” she said.

She also said that there is no correlation between trees in parks and increased crime.

“It’s the exact opposite,” she said, “the University of Washington has done several surveys on this. People have a greater sense of safety where there are a lot of trees.  There is less aggressiveness and less violence in the neighbourhood.”

Wheeler said that the city plans to continue planting the remainder of the trees in the neighbourhood, something that Burgess has no choice but to accept.

“At least we know now,” said Burgess.

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