Grand Marais Drain tree removal was necessary, city of Windsor says

·2 min read
The city has cleared the banks of the Grand Marais Drain just east of Howard Avenue. (Tony Doucette/CBC - image credit)
The city has cleared the banks of the Grand Marais Drain just east of Howard Avenue. (Tony Doucette/CBC - image credit)

The removal of vegetation from an area near the Grand Marais Drain has sparked criticism from residents, but the city says the facelift was necessary.

The banks along a stretch of the drain just east of Howard Avenue were cleared of trees, bushes and tall grass over the winter, leaving about 300 metres of largely muddy banks.

Krysta Glovasky-Ridsdale, who lives nearby, said the area was completely clear cut.

"And when I say clear cut, I mean clear cut ... There's no way any of this is going to be coming back," she said.

She was upset by the loss of the black walnut trees and noted that the area was home to a lot of wildlife including opossums, squirrels, geese and ducks. On social media, others also expressed disappointment that the land had been cleared.

But according to the city, it happened for a good reason.

City of Windsor drainage superintendent Andrew Dowie, who joined CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Tuesday, said the work was undertaken to make sure the drain continues to flow.

"The beavers were using this wood to create a dam and this ended up being emergency work because the dam was becoming a risk to the functioning of the drain," he said.

Evidence of beaver damage can be seen near the Grand Marais Drain in Windsor.
Evidence of beaver damage can be seen near the Grand Marais Drain in Windsor.(Tony Doucette/CBC)

The drain acts as a naturalized sewer that carries storm water away from properties, he explained.

It's estimated that about a third of the city, if not more, depends on the flow of water through the drain, into Turkey Creek and into the Detroit River, preventing water from flowing into basements and surface flooding as well, according to Dowie.

Dowie said there was no room to consider other options, as much as it breaks his heart to see the removal of the vegetation.

"When you see that there's a threat you have to address it," he said.

The drain, he said, is a piece of municipal infrastructure that is "not intended in any way" to be maintained as a natural area.

Dowie noted that such work proceeds with the approval of all three levels of government. The city's biologists recommended the work be done.

As for what's next, the greenery will be returning to the area. Grasses are expected to be replanted over the spring and summer. According to Dowie, the city intends to make the area wildlife friendly — just not for beavers.

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