Environment Media release

Media Advisory: Friends of Schmidtville complains to Mayor and Council regarding bullying tactics over tree removal proposal

To: The Mayor and Council of Halifax Regional Municipality, CAO Jacques Dubé 

From: Friends of Schmidtville 

3 November, 2020 

Schmidtville is a neighbourhood that received Heritage Conservation District designation from HRM in 2018. We have  thanked Council and the great heritage planners who worked with us over ten years to realize this wonderful  accomplishment. 

For the information of new Council members, Schmidtville is the oldest, largest, contiguous, extant neighbourhood in  HRM. Located just south of Spring Garden Road, it is bounded by Queen Street on the east, the cemeteries on the south,  South Park Street and Brenton Street on the west, and Clyde Street on the north. A 7-minute video on our  neighbourhood is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_9aWXilCss.  

Recently we have been participating in the Peninsula South Complete Streets Advisory Committee (PSCSAC) on the issue  of bike lanes and applaud HRM’s moves to green the city and reduce the reliance on automobiles. But we want to  ensure that the needs of Schmidtville residents and visitors are considered seriously in the process, as well as those of  the parents and pupils of Saint Mary’s Elementary School and the clients of Spencer House Seniors Day Centre 

At the October 14, 2020 PSCSAC meeting HRM staff raised the option of destruction of trees on Morris Street to  accommodate bike lanes. We and others are appalled at this proposal and we immediately contacted the mayor and our  councillor to investigate and clarify. Receiving no response, we contacted the media. 

The planting of trees in the 1970s was one of the first and most transformational events that led to the  revitalization of Schmidtville and its eventual attainment of Heritage Conservation District status. Cutting down  trees to green the city is as ridiculous as it sounds. In fact, below is a diagram proudly displayed on HRM’s own  website (https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/streets-sidewalks/urban-forestry/tree-cities-world) about the  value of trees. 

Since we criticized the tree-cutting proposal, we have been subjected to bullying behaviour by representatives of HRM.  At first they called our intervention fake news. Then they played down the importance of the tree-cutting option. Then a purported representative of HRM  told journalist Andrew Macdonald, on condition of anonymity, that the Schmidtville intervenors were “lunatics running around saying we are going to  cut down trees.“ 

HRM officials have now confirmed that the trees proposal is indeed still on the table. 

To use the word “lunatics” nowadays is bad enough but it is doubly wrong to employ it to describe representatives of a neighbourhood association who have worked so hard not only for our own area but for HRM as a whole.  

Another problem is the lack of transparency, indeed secrecy, in this matter.  Members of the PSCSAC have been told by HRM staff not to share the  proceedings of that committee. But this was never a condition of participation. And the public does need to know. 

The bullying and the secrecy by HRM officials are very disturbing to us. Can you please investigate this matter and  report back to us. 

Signed: 

William Breckenridge, 5514 Clyde St; Christopher Breckenridge, 5514 Clyde St.; Larry Haiven, 5606 Morris St.; Judy  Haiven, 5506 Morris St.; Karen Mitchell #4 – 5567 Morris St.; Lillian Breckenridge, 1354 Birmingham St.; Teresa Cassels  5516 Clyde St.; Lara Cusson, 5610 Morris St.; Joanne Corbett, 1345 Birmingham St.; Lyndon Watkins, 1314 Birmingham  St.; Mary Ellen Donovan, 5608 Morris St.; Faisal Forhart, 1341 Morris St.

One Comment

  1. I am a year-round cyclist and agree wholeheartedly that cutting down trees for a bike lane is wrong. I will be contacting my Council member to express my opinion and urge him not to support this motion.

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