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Purposefully poisoned? City to cut down damaged trees in Valleyview

Click to play video: 'Possible poisoning of Edmonton trees raises questions' Possible poisoning of Edmonton trees raises questions
A lot of questions are being asked after details emerged about a small number of trees on city parkland in the river valley that may have been poisoned. Vinesh Pratap explains – May 26, 2017

The City of Edmonton will remove several trees along the river valley after they were poisoned.

In a recent letter to residents in the Valleyview area, the city said the dead trees were discovered last fall.

The mature elms just north of 90 Avenue along Valleyview Drive will be removed for safety reasons. A section of rare birch might also be removed as a result of the contamination.

City Urban Foresters sent soil and leaf samples to the lab. The city said the results showed the trees had been poisoned with glyphosate, a chemical found in a herbicide commonly known as Round Up.

Residents in the area don’t believe the contamination was an accident.

“Being an amateur Sherlock Holmes, motive is the number one thing,” Bernie Nikolai said. “So who would want to poison the trees? I suspect it’s somebody who wants a better view along Valleyview Drive.”

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This isn’t the first time trees have been intentionally damaged in the area.

In 2014, $19,000 worth of trees on Valleyview Point were cut down without consent from the city. City officials suspected a resident removed the trees to improve their view of downtown Edmonton.

READ MORE: City investigating unauthorized tree removal near River Valley

Donna Owen grew up in the area, and walks her dogs along the treeline.

“They walk along the grass lines and they’re sniffing the grasses and the trees that are poisoned,” she said. “So it’s a danger to them.”

While the toxin levels in the soil were enough to kill some of the trees in the area, the city said human and animal health are not at risk.

The city didn’t damage the trees, but it is the city’s responsibility to clean them up.

“It’s not the city’s fault, really,” Nikolai said. “I think the city should aggressively follow up and find out who do it and take the appropriate action.”

But Owen thinks it will be difficult to determine exactly how the trees were poisoned.

“It’s going to be hard to catch anyone, I think,” she said. “I don’t think anyone would be doing it in the middle of the day.”

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Signs in the area warn people that tree removal in a public space is illegal. Owen said the signs, in combination with the letter to residents, will hopefully discourage people from damaging the treeline any further.

Chemical contamination of trees can result in two years in jail and a $100,000 fine, according to the Environmental Protections and Enhancement Act.

More greenery will eventually be added to the area to replace the damaged trees.

The city is asking anyone with information about the poisoning to report it by calling 311.

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