The Memorial Veterans Trees along King’s Highway, planted in memory of those who served, have stood tall for many decades. However, concerns haver been brought to Council regarding the removal of some of the elm trees, due to construction.
The trees were originally planted to commemorate those from the Rainy River District who served during World War II. The first four trees represent the four allied leaders of the time- Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Charles DeGaulle.
Three of the trees were removed from the south side of the highway last Monday.
Travis Rob, operations and facilities manager, said the removal of some of the trees was necessary for the expansion of the highway.
“There was three right at the start of the construction project that were going to end up right where the new curb is going to be,” Rob said. “There’s storm sewer pipes going in there as well. We had to remove those trees.”
Rob added that the three trees were closer to the road than the remaining trees along the south side, adding that he is fairly confident that the remaining trees on the south side should be okay.
Rob said if there are other conflicts in terms of trees with infrastructure, they may have to remove more trees.
“We’ll flip over onto the north side once we complete the works on the south side because we have to maintain one lane traffic. That’s when we’ll be able to see in terms of conflict with infrastructure,” Rob said. “It looks like the north side trees are father back from the roads so they should give us more room for things like curb and gutter.”
Fort Frances Mayor June Caul, said the Town of Fort Frances has a policy that every tree that has to come down for a reason, which is usually for road re-construction and rehabilitation, will be replaced elsewhere in the community.
Caul adds that they are always aware of the number of trees that are cut down.
“I certainly understand people who might have a significant other through their generations who were in the war and those trees were planted. Through the years they’ve died, they’ve been hit by vehicles or by snowplows,” Caul said.
Caul said unfortunately this is common with road construction but adds that there may be other ways to commemorate those who lost their lives in battle such as planting trees elsewhere with plaques for the people who passed away during the wartime.
“They are important people to be remembered for sure,” Caul said.
Rob said the south side should be done by mid to late June and they are looking to have both sides completed by August.
“We’re working with the contractor to try to maintain the trees,” Rob said. “The last thing I want to do is end up digging right at around the roots and you kill them. We may be able to leave the tree standing but the disturbance around the roots of the trees may result in the tree dying in the future anyway.
Rob said they try their best but because the trees are planted close to the roadway and they have very few options in terms of working around them.