Several Yellowknife residents raised concerns with City Hall and the Rotary Club of Yellowknife after spotting trees being cut down in Rotary Centennial Waterfront Park.
Birds nest in the area’s wetlands, while it’s a popular spot for local birdwatchers. Rotary Club president Yanik D’Aigle said he had seen photos of “significant damage” to the bush on the left of the boardwalk entrance.
“It almost looks as if there’s an elephant that walked through, but we don’t have an elephant,” D’Aigle said.
D’Aigle noted work sometimes takes place to maintain the park, including occasional thinning of the brush for cosmetic reasons. However, he said, the club doesn’t know who is responsible for the latest tree cutting – which is believed to be happening at night.
‘Like an elephant walked through.’ Photo: Amanda Mallon
D’Aigle said the damage is “unsightly” and stops people enjoying the park. He worries it could be a potential fire risk as the weather gets warmer and drier.
“For us, it’s just a reminder that this is a park we want everyone to utilize and it is for the good of the community,” he said.
Amanda Mallon, a nearby resident for more than 20 years and regular user of the park, has seen the damage first-hand.
“Every morning over the last three weeks, I get up and I take my dogs for a walk through the area that I’ve walked through for the last 25 years. I see fresh cuts and it hurts my heart,” she said.
“This is my neighbourhood and I hate to see it being just taken apart. It needs to be respected.”
‘Let the experts deal with this’
Mallon said she has noticed more trimming in and around the park over the past year and a half. The issue escalated this spring, she said, in the area highlighted by D’Aigle.
“It just became so evident that you cannot walk down this path without seeing the destruction that is happening,” she said.
“It looks like a really tall beaver has come in and done it. It looks like the kind of stuff you used to see on the Niven trail when the beavers were wreaking their havoc.”
Mallon believes more than one person is responsible for the damage, saying it has become an issue throughout the park and in other areas of the city. She doesn’t know who is responsible, but said she did address the issue with one person she saw trimming.
Mallon believes some individuals may have taken it upon themselves to widen or clean up trails or create sight lines in the bush. She noted the Rotary Club and the City have plans for the park that include protecting the environment, and they consult with residents before trimming.
“We really need to make sure that there is somebody in charge of it all and it’s not a bunch of random people going out and tidying up,” she said.
One solution to the issue, Mallon said, could be to put up signage stating the park is a protected area or promote public awareness about the importance of the wetlands.
Her message for people cutting down trees in the park is to “stop trimming it, just enjoy it … let the experts deal with this.”
“We are lucky enough to be on a migratory bird path, we are lucky to live on the Canadian shield, we are so lucky to be here,” she said.
City, feds investigating
In an email to Cabin Radio, a spokesperson for the City of Yellowknife said it is working with Environment and Climate Change Canada to investigate reported damage to the park. The federal department is responsible for protecting migratory birds.
Yellowknife’s community services and municipal enforcement divisions plan to monitor the park and the issue.
A spokesperson said the City encourages residents to contact City Hall with concerns about any Yellowknife parks and playgrounds.