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‘I told them this would happen’: LaSalle resident angry with borough after massive tree collapses

Click to play video: 'A tree falls in LaSalle, but who is to blame?' A tree falls in LaSalle, but who is to blame?
WATCH: A LaSalle woman has been trying unsuccessfully to remove a sick tree from her property. The borough has refused to grant her permission. Overnight Monday, the tree fell on her neighbour's property. As Global's Dan Spector explains, the woman feels that this situation could have been avoided – Mar 29, 2021

Residents of Kless Street in LaSalle are telling their borough “I told you so” after a windstorm knocked down a massive tree that narrowly missed a house.

The borough had previously declined multiple requests from residents to remove the tree.

On Monday morning, Carol-Ann Quansah walked out of her front door to head to an appointment, only to find a colossal conifer strewn across her entrance, making it impassable.

“I got out of my front door and walked into a tree,” Quansah recounted.

The toppled-over tree had come from her neighbour Sestina Sacratini’s yard. Sacratini said her husband discovered the fallen tree when he looked out the window Monday morning.

“I felt fear, disbelief. My neighbour immediately came over and said everybody was okay,” Sacratini recounted. “Thank God nobody was hurt.”

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The tree narrowly missed the Quansahs’ house.

“I’m really grateful it didn’t land on our head because the window right beside there was where we were sleeping,” Carol-Ann Quansah said.

Once the initial shock passed, Sacratini’s anger grew. After watching them sway during storms, she says since she moved in to her home about a year ago, she’d made multiple requests to the borough for permits to remove two frail-looking trees in her front yard.

“The trees are not well. They haven’t been maintained properly,” she said.

“Every time it would rain or there were heavy winds like last night, we were always so concerned that it would eventually fall,” said Sacratini’s other neighbour, Laura Bongiovanni.

After Sacratini’s request to remove the trees in summer 2020, the borough sent inspectors to assess them. In August 2020, officials concluded the trees were in good health and should not come down.

“I told them this would happen, and it happened,” said Sacratini.

She made another request in February 2021, this time including an opinion from an independent arborist. The arborist said both trees were infected with fungus, had been through “incorrect prunings” and carried concerns about carpenter ant infestations.

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In a letter to the city, Sacratini wrote “the trees are in terrible shape and quite frankly scare us,” and said she’d hold the city responsible for future damage the trees caused.

On March 16, 2021,  LaSalle borough manager Benoit Gauthier responded, saying the trees are in good physiological health. He cited the summer 2020 report in which the city deemed they should not be removed, and denied Sacratini’s request.

“You need to listen to citizens, because citizens who live there witness what goes on daily,” Sacratini told Global News. “You, an expert sitting behind the desk, doesn’t know what they go through. We make valid points. They need to listen to people. ”

The Quansahs were evaluating their options Monday morning.

“Somebody is going to have to take away the tree and somebody is going to have to assess the damage and somebody is going to need to pay the bill,” said Carol-Ann Quansah.

In a statement, LaSalle referred Global News to the 2020 report, and spoke of the importance of preserving mature trees.

“Sustainable development and fighting climate change are priorities for both Ville de Montréal and the LaSalle Borough. Preserving mature trees on public and private property is essential to attain these objectives,” said Pierre Dupuis, the assistant borough director.

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Concerned they may soon fall as well, Sacratini and the Quansahs now intend to remove the remaining trees in their front yards.

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