Today’s Poll

City council takes Nelson Hydro to task about tree pruning and comes up with a new plan

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
September 16th, 2014

Nelson City Council decided at a special regular meeting yesterday that it needs to find a different approach to the pruning of the city’s trees that grow under and around power lines. This came as a result of public complaints about tree pruning done this summer by a contractor working for Nelson Hydro.

For the remainder of this year’s pruning, the contractors will be informing households ahead of time about their plans—something they were supposed to be doing all along.

“Nelson Hydro ran some ads and apparently the contractor was requested to give notice as they moved through a block,” says Councillor Donna Macdonald, “but they stopped doing it, so we are going to make sure they do it. It was in their contract.”

Those notices will explain the need for directional pruning as opposed to aesthetic pruning and will describe how the pruning will reduce public hazards created by downed power lines, and reduce the number of power outages due to trees or branches falling on power lines.

In addition, said Macdonald, the contractor and Nelson Hydro will begin to work in collaboration with the city’s parks department so there is “more integration and a more holistic approach,” consistent with the city’s tree management plan, developed in 2012.

Also, Nelson Hydro, in collaboration with the parks department, will be required to fix some of the pruning already done this summer by removing some remaining dead branches, by doing additional shaping where possible, and by cutting down some trees that are incompatible with power lines.

“It is not just about Nelson Hydro but it is about other values too, which was strongly recommended tonight,” said Macdonald. “Some trees live better under power lines than others—short trees—so we might take out a big Norway Maple and plant one that is smaller, and put the big spreading gorgeous tree on the other side where there are no power lines.”

Related stories in The Nelson Daily:

Why city council is worried about Nelson Hydro’s tree pruning plans (March 27, 2014)

City pauses tree pruning because of public complaints (September 3, 2014)

The city council document attached at the bottom of this story, on which these recommendations are based, describes the pruning program and directional pruning, the public complaints, a meeting between city staff and the contractor after the public complaints, and the work still to be done. 

Bill Metcalfe is a freelance journalist who covers Nelson city hall for The Nelson Daily. To receive a regular twice-monthly email with links to his most recent city hall stories, send a request notification to

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