WINNIPEG -- Some Wolseley residents are upset after about two hundred healthy trees were removed instead of pruned in a neighbourhood park.

The trees were removed after pruning concerns were raised along the edge of Omand Park next to a Manitoba Hydro corridor.

"They were overzealous," said Marianne Cerilli, a chair of the Wolseley Residents Association. "They could have done a more careful job to maintain as much trees as they could have."

The Wolseley Residents Association said Manitoba Hydro told them the trees were cut down because it was cheaper than pruning them.

"It shouldn't be the power lines or the trees," said Erna Buffie, chair of the association’s Green Committee. "We need to look at more innovative ways of dealing with preserving our urban forest, because we are looking at losing 50 to 60 per cent of our canopy in the next 10 to 20 years."

Buffie said the benefits trees provide were not taken into account, citing flood and sewer protection, as well as offsetting energy costs.

The residents association would like to see a plan in place to replace the trees that were removed.

In a statement, Bruce Owen, media relations officer for Manitoba Hydro, said the situation involved self-seeding, tall-growth maple trees in a ditch, which were growing into two circuits of overhead power lines – a 12 kV line below and a 66 kV line above.

Owen added that the trees has already grown into the lower line, and would have encroached the upper line in a year. He noted the 66 kV line is a larger capacity line that supplies power to area substations and serves thousands of Hydro customers.

“Tree contact is one of the leading causes of downed lines and outages. From both a reliability and public safety perspective, the trees and branches had to be addressed,” he said.

“Our contractors are well experienced with these situations and it was apparent there would be very little remaining of the tree crown once adequate clearances from the powerlines were established through pruning.”

Owen said that for reliability and safety purposes, sufficient vegetation needs to be removed for adequate clearances from lines, and to prevent it coming back in a few years and needing to be trimmed in the same area.

“As a result, the field decision was made to remove the trees, as very little —if any — of the crown was remaining at this location,” he said.

“Each tree has to be a field decision when trimming. Contractors are arborists and try to only take to what they have to, but in this case there wasn’t a practical alternative.”