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Citizen Initiated Forum on Topping Trees

Topping trees is just WRONG Maureen Sexsmith-West ISA Certified Arborist, PR4600A


A couple of weeks ago, a situation arose in a south side neighbourhood that prompted one citizen to take action. Watching the third yard surrounding her property subjected to tree topping was just too much for one Lethbridge resident.

With hundreds of flyers in hand, Joanne Horne went door to door, talking to the residents. She was a woman on a mission to educate her neighbours about the consequences of topping trees. She conveyed her concerns about the potential fate of other mature trees in the nearly 100 year old neighbourhood. A few phone calls later, a public forum was organized. She was interviewed, along with the John Gilbert (Urban Forestry Foreman) by Global Lethbridge. See Global Interview Members of the community were invited, along with the local tree care providers and local government officials, to talk trees.

The industry was well represented with 11 different tree care companies in attendance. While not all have Certified Arborists on Staff, many observe the standards outlined by the International Society of Arboriculture. Four members of council and about 30 home owners were in attendance. A PowerPoint presentation about the effects of topping, with suggestions for alternative and appropriate pruning, was given. The Urban Forestry Foreman also shared information regarding the City’s best management practices for tree care.


All were invited to ask questions or express their concerns. A number of ideas were brought forth. These ranged from new/modified tree by-laws, stricter business licensing standards, pruning/removal permits as well as how to increase consumer education. Concerns were raised about the potential added cost and delays for a permit process, particularly in emergency response situations. There were suggestions about improving the status of heritage value trees that would provide better protection regardless of ownership. Consumers were encourage to seek more than one estimate, to contact companies with Certified Arborists and to avoid pressure sales tactics. Emphasis was placed on educating themselves about the trees in their care before making a final decision on a contractor. Verifying insurance coverage and asking for references was also suggested. The trees in our City can breathe a little easier thanks to the passion of one woman. She is supported by an industry that won’t stand by when destructive methods are used that negatively impact the health, safety and longevity of trees in our community. More dialogue is planned.


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