Watch out for that tree!
RICHARD MACKENZIE TRURO NEWS richard.mackenzie @saltwire.com
TRURO, N.S. - Safe to say, pretty much everyone loves the look of a large, healthy tree, with branches full of thick green leaves at the height of growth. That love can turn to annoyance however if they’re continually forced to duck under the branches while strolling down a sidewalk or are constantly hearing them whack the window or roof on the passenger side of their vehicle. That’s the problem around some parts of Truro that had urban forest coordinator Andrew Williams posting a reminder that homeowners are responsible for keeping trees, shrubs, flowers, hedges and other plant material on their property, from encroaching onto the public right-of-way. Anything that creates obstacles and hazards for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists along town streets and sidewalks is not permitted. Property owners are responsible for all routine plant maintenance, such as pruning, to maintain a 4.3metre clearance above the street, just are they are for keeping their grass cut. Williams said some property owners have been contacted directly about the issue. “We’re a community surrounded by trees, so we tend to take them for granted and, generally, don’t react to them until there is a condition or problem,” he said. “And folks just tend to forget it’s their responsibility to conduct routine maintenance on plant material they own.” Williams said the town does provide services to remove diseased elm trees as part of a disease control program for Dutch elm disease. “Street-side hazard trees or dying trees that pose potential public safety hazards over streets or sidewalks," he said, "but routine maintenance, that is the responsibility of property owners." He added it isn’t a case of the town looking for infringing plant material, but when they start getting complaints, they need to react and contact property owners. “Just to let them know this is your responsibility and, please, have it looked after in a timely fashion,” he said, adding those with mobility issues, such as people relying on scooters, can be particularly impacted by plant encroachment. Mayor Bill Mills said the issue goes to his definition of ‘civic engagement.’ “My simple answer is, if you’re walking down the street and see some garbage, you pick it up and throw it in a garbage bin, you’ve just become civic engaged,” Mills said. “It would be the same thing with cleaning up overhanging branches, making sure your property is well manicured to the best of your ability.” In addition to those with mobility issues, Mills said another situation could simply be a person walking down a sidewalk being distracted for a moment, and running into a low-hanging branch. “It can happen,” he said. “So we certainly all need to work together.”