‘It’s devastating’: 200 trees removed in Langford for E&N Rail Trail expansion

'It's devastating': 200 trees removed in Langford for E&N Rail Trail expansion

WATCH: A group of Langford residents are blasting the CRD for cutting down a swath of trees to make way for the expansion of the E&N Rail Trail. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

Neighbours along a stretch of the E&N trail in Langford say they’re outraged after several trees were cut down earlier this week by city workers.

“People appeared and started sawing, logging and cutting all the trees down,” said Beth Cruise, who is part of the Atkins Alliance Neighbourhood Group.

Cruise says more than 200 trees were removed along a one-kilometre stretch from Atkins Avenue to Savory School to make way for a pedestrian and cycling path alongside the tracks.

The construction is part of the estimated $36-million E&N Rail Trail expansion that would connect downtown Victoria to Esquimalt, View Royal and Langford.

“I’m very much for bike lanes but why do they have to be pitted against each other?,” Cruise explained.

The Atkins Alliance Neighbourhood Group petitioned to save the trees last summer, but feel their message and concerns went unheard.

“The part that I don’t understand is the CRD has just come out with a climate change emergency and cutting down huge trees like this doesn’t fit in with the climate plan,” Cruise said.

The Capital Regional District says it was able to reduce tree loss from 300 to 200 trees, which are mainly younger trees that will be replaced.

Others who use this trail regularly say the new pathway is a welcome addition.

“If it’s something that’s going to be nice and beneficial for everybody and a nice place for people to go then I might be okay with it,” said neighbour Roberto Correia.

While the group isn’t opposed to expanding the trail, Cruise says they’re worried about the potential environmental impact to the area’s sensitive ecosystem which includes Millstream Creek.

“There’s all types of animals and birds as well as the salmon,” said Cruise. “It’s changing the whole environment.”

Currently, the E&N Rail Trail is 12 kilometres long and will be 17 kilometres when complete.

The Savory School to Atkins Avenue section is Phase Three of trail construction and is expected to take a year to complete once construction has started.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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