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Cost of removing logs felled along trail too much for Salmon Arm council

Estimates for work do not include potential $21,000 cost of trail rehabilitation
Laurie Rollins and neighbours asked the city to remove trees felled behind their homes along the Hillcrest Heights trail. (Laurie Rollins photo)

City council has logged off on concerns raised over trees felled along a trail behind several Hillcrest homes.

At its April 22 meeting, council received a letter from resident Laurie Rollins, along with a signed petition regarding 15 trees cut down by the city on a slope between her home and the Hillcrest Heights trail. The trees had been cut down in response to concerns raised by Rollins and neighbours that they were dead and at risk of falling. City roads and parks manager Darin Gerow had it confirmed that the trees were an “imminent danger to the neighbouring properties.”

The petition, signed by 106 people, raised concerns with the cut trees being a safety and fire risk.

Gerow told the Observer that after the trees were cut down, the contractors removed all their “fire-hazard limbs” and left the large diameter logs pinned against existing stumps to prevent from any further movement, while providing slope stability and benefits to wildlife.

In response to Rollins and the petition, council voted to have staff look at options, and related costs, to remove the 15 trees. Those options were presented by Gerow at the May 13 council meeting. The first involved having a contractor do a full clean up, accessing the trail with a truck and skid-steer via the 1500 block at 24th Street SE. The work involving two staff was estimated to take two days and cost $8,400. Gerow noted with this option that the contractor had advised against doing the work as the logs “are secure and helping to prevent erosion.”

Option 2 involved having city staff do the full cleanup at a cost of $11,000. A third option for partial clean up was basically half of the above quotes, depending on who does the work.

A fourth option considered but not included in a report to council involved manual labour, the “cutting and hauling logs out with wheelbarrows and carts.” Gerow explained a risk assessment of this option would would result in the required use of equipment to address risk of injury.

Read more: City to look at options for trees felled along Salmon Arm trail

Read more: Salmon Arm neighbours concerned downed trees along trail still a threat

“WorkSafe claims are costly and we can’t lose our bodies right now,” said Gerow. “We’re already short-staffed.”

In addition to the cost of removing the trees, there would be an additional expense involving trail rehabilitation, as the three options would result in “significant damage” to the trail. An estimate for the work provided by the Shuswap Trail Alliance came in at $21,000.

None of the options were supported by council.

Responding to concerns raised in the petition, Mayor Alan Harrison said the fire hazard isn’t felled logs, but branches previously piled up elsewhere along the trail.

“I appreciate the contractor who actually removed all the branches…,” said Harrison. “What we know from FireSmarting that it’s the loose small material that’s on the ground and on dead trees that cause significant sparks that spread fire. So I don’t see the fire hazard actually there from those trees.”

Harrison also didn’t view the logs as being a safety concern for children or cyclists.

“I think the initial letter from Ms. Rollins talked about the esthetics of that from her yard… now that some have been removed and vegetation is up, I think over time that view is going to change. I personally think the view is OK but everyone has their own opinion. So I am not in favour of spending tax dollars to remove those logs.”

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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