Nelson Hydro’s tree pruning program will be temporarily suspended until city council can meet with the contractor to address community complaints.
“There have been some concerns raised that the pruning is too severe, that perhaps it is not balanced,” acting mayor Deb Kozak said Tuesday. “People are disturbed about why it’s being done and about the health of the trees. Council is getting a report from staff about how it’s proceeding.”
Over the summer, the city-owned utility has been removing every limb or branch within three meters — and some cases five meters — of its power lines, leaving behind many Y-shaped trees.
When the plan was announced in March, line manager Doug Pickard told council he anticipated complaints. “People are going to be concerned about the amount of clearance we’re going for, but it needs to be done. It’s industry standard,” he said, noting their goal was improved safety and reliability.
Kozak agreed Nelson Hydro did explain it would be a “dramatic” change, but “I don’t think people were quite prepared.”
She said council received a report from Nelson Hydro this week and will meet with the company doing the work as well as the city’s in-house arborists before the next council meeting. Although no date has been set, she expected it to happen within a week.
In the meantime, some work around schools will be completed, but the rest will be on hold — at least within city limits. Kozak said the contractor will continue to work in outlying areas Nelson Hydro serves.
“It’s not a big deal to stop for a little while,” she said. Last Thursday morning, city crews cut down an old silver maple at Lakeside Park after a huge limb broke off, but Kozak said it was unrelated to the hydro work. In that case, internal rot was blamed.
Kozak said she didn’t expect the tree trimming to become an election issue, but acknowledged the city has “been receiving a lot of communication [from the public] about tree pruning policy and practice.”