A cutting debate

Dear editor,

I was contacted by a large number of concerned taxpayers respecting the King’s Highway construction that was removing – by cutting down – the trees planted as a beautiful way to memorialize Veterans from the Fort Frances area, who gave their life for this country, family and friends, that we may live in a free and democratic society.

I was contacted by property owners on the highway where the construction on the road had started. I was also contacted by several Veterans and individuals in the area that served in uniform. I received many phone calls from a number of business owners, a few Legion members, a lawyer and several families whose family members died in World War I and World War II, whose memory these trees were planted for. (Just a footnote here – there were 80 Veterans from this area that were killed in Service in World War I and World War II that these trees memorialized.)

Everyone who contacted me were truly upset with Fort Frances town council’s actions to cut these memorial trees down and asked if I could do anything to stop the destruction of these sacred memorial trees.

A few questions asked were:

  1. Was the road construction to expand the lanes for a short distance really necessary?
  2. Why wasn’t any safeguards put in place by town council to protect all these memorial trees in the construction to this roadway was so critically important?
  3. Did Council hold a public meeting to discuss the removal of these trees?
  4. Did Council approach the Fort Frances Legion to discuss the removal of these trees?
  5. Were the families of any of the Veterans who were killed in action consulted?
  6. Why did Council not do their homework before letting out the road work contract respecting these memorial trees?

I have a family member who was killed in World War II and several of my family members were very upset with the town cutting down these trees.

I drafted an open letter to Mayor June Caul and members of council asking them to save these memorial trees and to cancel this disgraceful event out of respect for all our Veterans who served in uniform, including the Veterans who gave their life for us, their families and our country’s freedom and democracy we enjoy today as a nation. This letter was included in the Letter to the Editor column in the Fort Frances Times on April 21. I also copied this letter to the local radio station, Greg Rickford, our MPP and Marcus Powlowski MP, our political representative serving this riding.

I was recently contacted on May 4 by T. Rob, Manager of Operations and Facilities and he advised me that council was holding a meeting the next morning and the issue of cutting down the memorial Veterans trees was on their agenda and he provided me with the appropriate phone and ID numbers to enter the meeting.

In closing, there were four Veterans trees cut down, and after listening to me and other speakers, Fort Frances town council pledged to replace the four memorial trees that were cut down and felt the construction on the road project could proceed without having to cut down any more of these precious trees. Although I am not happy with the four trees that were cut down, I am pleased that council elected at this meeting to replace them and do everything in their power to prevent any further trees from being cut down on this construction project.

Yours truly,
Allan T Bedard