'Get a grip,' councillor tells critics over Glen tree loss
The recent outcry over Coquitlam’s decision to chop 200 trees at a park slated for redevelopment stirred a city councillor this week to send a blunt message to the critics: “Get a grip.”
Coun. Terry O’Neill tore into the “eco-hysterics” at Monday’s council meeting, saying the city had consulted the public on Glen Park before the previous city council unanimously voted to proceed with rejuvenating the green space. And like other council members, O’Neill said he has received many angry emails about the tree loss — some of whom describe it as a “slaughter” or “massacre.” He was also confronted in public and asked to watch a David Suzuki video.
“I can only wonder how such people can sleep at night, knowing that, every day, throughout the world, not only are hundreds of thousands of trees being ‘slaughtered,’ but so are billions of blades of grass. Their nightmares must be horrific,” O’Neill said, mockingly.
He concluded: “My message to the folks who have been horrified, mortified, scandalized, bewitched, bothered or bewildered by the removal of 200 trees —representing only 20% of the total — at Glen Park is this: Get a grip.”
O’Neill’s tough words were in response to Coun. Lou Sekora, who pointed the finger at city staff for allegedly blindsiding the community with tree removal.
Kathy Reinheimer, Coquitlam’s manager of parks and facilities, told council the city had two arborists on site who determined an extra 40 trees had to be cut down because they were diseased or unstable.
“To me, that park is butchered,” said Sekora, who lives nearby. “Glen Park is totally, totally destroyed. The public is upset. There’s no two ways about it.... In my 40 years [on council], I’ve never seen anything like this happen.”
Mayor Richard Stewart said while he was disheartened so many trees had to go, the forest in the northwest part of the park was an area where “nefarious activities” took place and where many dog walkers dumped their poop bags.
Reinheimer said the city has placed two signs on both sides of the park — located between Pipeline Road and Westwood Street in City Centre — to show its plans for redevelopment, which include a new picnic area, playground, off-leash dog zone, path and entrance plaza in the first phase that will cost about $500,000.