• James Parry

Hudson couple to fight for more stringent tree-cutting by-laws and guidelines


PHOTO COURTESY PIERRE LANCTÔT

Standing in front of what little is left of their privacy tree wall cut down by their neighbour this past weekend, Pierre Lanctot and Carole Ménard are seeking new tree-cutting by-laws and regulations to ensure that it does not happen again to other Hudson residents.

Hudsonites Pierre Lanctôt and Carole Ménard, who bought a home at the corner of Côte St. Charles and Ridge five years ago because it reflected the town's reputation of being a 'green space heaven,' are calling on council to revise its tree-cutting by-laws following the destruction of a 100-foot high privacy tree wall and many shrubs by their next door neighbour this past weekend.

“We were totally surprised and helpless by this action as the brand-new owner of that property did not have the courtesy of informing us in advance of his plans to destroy this tree and green space area,” said the couple in a letter to Mayor Ed Prévost and all councillors,

“Old and sick trees were marked in red by the city staff as approved to cut down but what transpired was unnecessary and truly inconsiderate of his neighbours and the community of Hudson that cherish trees and green space.”

Permit was issued

They go on to say, “Not only did we try to politely share our concerns with the property owner once we realized what was happening by noon on Saturday, August 26, we also contacted the emergency service #311 (who showed up four hours later) as the town hall offices were closed on Saturday. The #311 team ended up being helpless once they showed up as they could only confirm a permit had been issued by the town to cut down trees.”

The letter continues, “The town had marked with red paint the trees to be cut down with a permit. However, any trees that could not be cut down whatsoever (with a minimum of 25-cm diameter) were probably impossible to reconcile after the fact without proper photos or plans being done before the cut-down. All in all, probably in excess of 100 trees of all sizes were cut down.”

Quality of life affected

On Monday, Ménard said Carl Seguin of the town’s Urban Planning and Environment department visited them. “He discussed the situation with us and displayed both professionalism and compassion. Unfortunately the trees are gone and even he cannot rectify any wrongdoing.

“It was sheer carnage and why on a long weekend when town offices were closed?” said Lanctôt. “The quality of life in our entire backyard has been drastically reduced and the inside of our house on the south side is now completely exposed. We also suspect the value of our property has been negatively affected.

Comparison to St. Lazare guidelines

“But the damage is now done and while Carole and I, as concerned citizens and lovers of trees and forests, cannot bring back the 100 or so trees and shrubs that were cut down, we want to do all that we can so that other Hudson residents will never have to experience what we just did.”

Added Ménard, “It is very clear that our current tree-cutting guidelines are totally inadequate and not representative of a community that cherishes green space and trees. Right now, the minimum diameter needed to cut down a tree with a permit in Hudson is 25 centimetres compared to St. Lazare where it is three centimetres.

“We need to make our tree cutting guidelines more stringent, we need to make sure we have different bylaws for existing residential properties versus new residential development, and we need to factor in a certain element of existing privacy factors especially with direct neighbours into our guidelines.”

Response from council

In response to the letter signed by Ménard and Lanctôt, Councillor Deborah Woodhead repesenting District 5 in which they live, told Your Local Journal just before going to press, “On behalf of the Town of Hudson, I can assure them that we will be studying this case. At this point in time our by-laws were adhered to. But this case is a good reminder to all of us that when we plan major work on our property it is always a good idea to communicate with our neighbours.”

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