Gone but not forgotten. RIP Riverdale lilac bush

Click to play video 'Edmonton residents upset after lilac bush is chopped down' Edmonton residents upset after lilac bush is chopped down
WATCH ABOVE: Residents of an Edmonton neighbourhood say they feel robbed after their lilac bush was chopped down without any notice. Kendra Slugoski reports – May 22, 2017

On Friday, crews armed with chainsaws chopped down a beloved lilac bush in Riverdale. Many residents were furious.

The chainsaw-wielding workers were employed by TransEd, the company hired to build and operate the Valley LRT line.

A rest-in-peace sign and flowers have since been placed on the mound of sawed-off limbs. There is also a makeshift card and one sign staked in the remnants that reads “Requiem for a City.”

Riverdale residents pay tribute to beloved lilac bush. Kendra Slugoski
Neighbourhood dubbed 'The City's Garden' lost decades-old lilac bush. Kendra Slugoski

It’s not known exactly how long the lilac bush has been part of a the community, but one resident estimated the bush was about 100 years old.

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“I was devasted,” Nancy McLeod told Global Edmonton on Monday.

McLeod once had a view of the thriving lilac bush from her balcony — now all that remains are sawed-off stumps.

“To realize that it had been chopped down just seemed like such a travesty,” she said.

“It’s a scar that tells us this is how we do business in Edmonton,” Rob McLauchlin said.

“This is not the way you run a city.”

McLauchlin has lived in the area for 12 years and said the lilac bush was not just a shrub – it meant much more to the community.

He called the plant’s abrupt removal indicative of a larger problem with communication and construction of the Valley LRT line.

“You wont’ find anyone in Riverdale who is against mass transit,” he said. “We’re just questioning how it’s being done.”

TransEd, the company hired to build and operate the Valley LRT line, said it had been trying to keep residents updated of changes and disruptions but admits in this case, nobody was told about the lilac bush removal.

TransEd said the lilac bush was chopped down to make way for a fire hydrant and to widen the path.

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“The path has to be big enough so a fire truck can make the turn and get down to the bridge and tunnel portal if necessary,” said TransEd communications manager, Sue Heuman.

Heuman said the hydrant might have been able to go someplace else but next year, the path construction would go straight through the lilac.

“We have tried to preserve as many trees and plants as we can,” Heuman said. “We have saved dozens of trees that were otherwise earmarked for removal.

“We are really trying to be cognizant of our footprint and make sure we’re removing as few trees as possible.”

TransEd said once the Valley line LRT construction is complete, it will plant trees and shrubs native to the river valley.

Moving forward, TransEd said the best way to keep track of the LRT construction and changes is by signing up for email alerts.