Neighbourhood residents have expressed concern about what appears to be the denuding of Bennet Crescent playground as a number of poplar trees have been cut down there. However, the Town says this is the start of renovations for the little park.
The initial tree cutting was a bit of a surprise to some in the neighbourhood. “I would say the biggest issue for all the neighbours was lack of information and notice,” said Kathleen Pateman. She says people also don’t want the playground to sit barren, without a plan to complete the proposed renovation. “No one could tell us what trees they would replace them with after they were all cut.”
Town administrator Rhonda Stewart said the playground update has been planned for over a year and there is a notice on the Town website, virden.ca/p/local-notices/a75eb990-ff04-48d1-b9a7-acce4d6ad523 to explain the renovation. It reads:
“Please be advised that the town of Virden will be removing a number of the overgrown poplar trees in the Bennett Crescent playground starting this week, in order to facilitate playground refurbishing and stop further damage to infrastructure.
“Portions of these trees are dying, making them a possible fall and property damage risk. The poplar tree root systems are also known to cause problems with sewer systems and damage to curbs, gutters, and asphalt, whose replacement is costly to the ratepayers.”
Pateman noted, “Some [neighbours] apparently have had some sewer issues so they are happy to see the trees replaced.”
Stewart said on April 30, “The Town has put this project on pause until we can get more information on delivery times of the playground equipment etc. Once that is determined, then a decision will have to be made regarding the trees, if they are all removed, if only some are, and when…
Town staff will consult Assiniboine West Watershed District to determine tree species suitable for boulevard plantings; trees whose roots are not invasive.
In the meantime, the Town has issued a Facebook post advising the residents that Public Works staff will be cutting down the stumps and cleaning up the debris.
The has been in the budget for two years for this project, says Stewart, but the work was not done last year so, it has been brought forward to this year.
Further funding came last year for the project as a Manitoba 150 grant. “Council has budgeted $15,000 for new playground equipment this year,” she says. Residents can expect further updates as the Town gets more information.
“The neighbour hood is very happy about the new playground equipment,” said Pateman. “We just didn’t expect them to cut down all the trees to do it. Playgrounds without shade and in the open wind aren’t kid friendly.”