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Tree cut down in Lois Hole Park

Cut tree prompts questions about Christmas tree theft

By: Viola Pruss

  |  Posted: Saturday, Jan 04, 2014 06:00 am

GRINCH'S HANDIWORK? – St. Albert resident Amber Noden noticed that this tree along Ray Gibbon Drive had been cut down prior to Christmas.
GRINCH'S HANDIWORK? – St. Albert resident Amber Noden noticed that this tree along Ray Gibbon Drive had been cut down prior to Christmas.
AMBER NODEN/Supplied photo

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Someone cut down a lone evergreen tree in Lois Hole Provincial Park, prompting speculation that the perpetrator helped himself to a free Christmas tree.

St. Albert resident Amber Noden noticed the tree while she was driving along Ray Gibbon Drive in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Thinking the shape of the tree looked rather strange – its lower part still protrudes from the ground while the rest has gone missing – Noden took a photo and sent it to the Gazette, wondering what may have happened to the tree.

“I drove by it one day and kept thinking that is really weird,” she later told the Gazette. “You would think if it was the city they would cut it down right at the bottom.”

There’s a fine for taking down natural property in provincial parks. Section 10.1 (removal of natural resources) of the Provincial Parks Act states that a person shall not remove or move timber, soil, sand, rock and other natural materials in or from a park or recreation area. Otherwise they can be fined up to $100,000, said Tim Chamberlin, spokesperson for Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation.

“A person who contravenes the act, they are guilty of an offense and liable, so in the case of an individual, they can be fined up to $100,000, and in the case of a corporation it could be up to $500,000,” he said.

“There is also the potential for imprisonment for a term for no more than 12 months, or both a fine and the prison but that depends on the judge,” he added.

The province does not have a specific fine set aside for cutting down a tree and removing it from the park, said Chamberlin. But the offender would be required to appear in court and may end up paying for the tree and replacing it.

No Christmas trees cut in city

Within city limits trees are usually not cut down by individuals and used for Christmas trees, said Garnet Melnyk, senior officer with the city’s municipal enforcement services.

Based on the city’s parks bylaw the fine for removing a tree is $100, while cutting a tree from the side of the road costs $250 based on the local traffic bylaw.

Melnyk suspects the difference in the fines stems from more effort and cost involved in keeping trees on the side of the road – where they are considered street furniture - compared to having them grow in a park.

“There is more involved in maintaining a tree on a boulevard than there is in a park,” he said. “It’s easy to get into the park.”

Planting a new tree in the city can cost up to $500, based on information from the city’s public works department. If the city were to cut a tree, they would only leave the stump but not cut it down halfway and leave the rest, said operations supervisor Stephen Schlese.

Chamberlin added that anyone noticing an offense to park property in Lois Hole Provincial Park can report it to a conservation officer at 780-960-8170.


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