Slash and Mulch in Cornwall Ontario – Lamoureux Park Preps for Canada Day 2012 by Don Smith

CFN – Preparations are well underway for the 2012 Canada Day Celebrations in Lamoureux Park, but one development may come as an unwelcome shock to some.

There has been a bit of a stir in a particular Facebook group.  A post titled:  “Announcing Cornwall’s ‘DE-Beautify Lamoreux Park’ program. Sad!” caught my eye, but not as much as the accompanying photo depicting an emaciated looking area of Lamoureux Park where just a day before stood well-manicured lilac stands.  The poster, who also submitted several photos to Cornwall Free News, said that:  “workers said it was part of an anti-drug program.”

Contractors clearing & chipping lilacs at Lamoureux Park

The online dialogue continued: “The sad part is these were planted in loving memory of departed loved ones by their grieving families and also by Canada Trust Friends of the Environment. It seems to me rather insensitive of the City to accept a gift from the citizens then toss them in the wood chipper. I wonder how the families who looked at them as a memorial to their family members think about the city destroying them? If the city finds druggies in a graveyard will they destroy the tombstones and toss them into the quarry? Same logic.”

In near disbelief, I headed to the city’s waterfront for a first hand look.  I, too, spoke with one of the contractors while they were on a break.  I was told that they’d been advised that the City had wanted to remove every lilac from the entire area two years ago, but lacked the funds at the time.  The worker was of the impression that a few teens had spoiled it for everyone and that by the end of Friday every lilac in that area of the park will be destroyed.  That’s right – not transplanted, not thinned out, not reconfigured, destroyed in a chipper!  Much of that area of the park has already been stripped bare.

One of the former lilac stands stripped bare & another on the way

Recalling that lilacs were clearly called for in the 2007 Waterfront Plan, I checked out the City’s website and sure enough: Lamoureux Park and The 2007 Plan.  Public Meeting Comments included in the Plan advocate to:  “Move some of the lilac bushes and make available more “romantic” seating throughout the lilac garden.”

What happened to Cornwall’s boast of being the “City of Lilacs”, rivalling Rochester, NY in the size of our collection?

Cornwall’s Lilac Festival is mentioned on this tourism site.

Checking recent news stories I quickly located a report which indicates:


Some smaller ticket items were cut from the budget. They include:

•A Summer Camp Program at the Benson Center (formerly at the Bob Turner Arena)

•Special bulky waste collection days (it will stay as a weekly pickup service)

•Communities in Bloom funding for flowers and supplies

•Safety netting around the ball fields at Reg Campbell Park

•A lilac-removal program for city parks

•A waterfront capital project to improve the dock and parking lot at Guindon

Since it would seem that this item was announced as cut from the budget, I telephoned the Budget Committee Chairman about this.  He indicated that, to the best of his knowledge, the move is solely due to alleged thieves hiding in the bushes after breaking into the marina and elsewhere, but that Parks and Recreation could provide a definitive answer.  We sat on this story overnight in order to obtain a statement from Parks & Recreation.

This morning I spoke with Christine Lefebvre, Divison Manager, Parks and Recreation for the City of Cornwall. She told me that two years ago there was a complaint which they investigated. Inside lilac clusters were found picnic tables, wine bottles, beer bottles, glue packages, and several syringes. Apparently the number of syringes discovered is higher than found in other parks. She described it as a serious situation. At that time the lilacs were cut back & trimmed, but they grew back quickly. A police safety audit was performed. The audit included placing a light to see if it could be seen through the bushses. The ensuing recommendation was to make changes.

Although the details are confidential and not available to Ms. Lefebvre, three weeks ago there was an alleged incident in which a little girl was dragged inside the bushes. It’s unclear where the parent was at the time. Reportedly a lot of children go to the park on their own and some parents drop their children off for a few hours. A lot of parents have been asking for something to be done. There is also concern that it’s not safe for cyclists either, especially for women.

Five break-ins have been reported at Marina 200. Some boaters who rent slips and/or camp there have requested removal of the lilacs. Apparently youth hide in the bushes.

Lefebvre said that there are a lot of red flags, so the department has advised Council that this is a dangerous situation. This clear cutting has facilitated a possible expansion of the nearby play structures in a future budget year.

When asked, she did acknowledge that this item had been removed from budget. The money was found by not awarding a geese dog handler contract. Although massive numbers of trees have been/are being removed, Parks will maintain the lone lilac bed situated along Water Street. They’re not planning to remove some hardwood trees which grew wild among the lilacs and they will add other trees to the park. The landscape supervisor reported that transplanting is a difficult and costly venture.

And what about public consultation and the clearly expressed wishes of the community that the beautiful park remain and not be transformed into something less, as was well-reported here on Cornwall Free News?

Lefebvre is hoping that this is the right decision, saying that:  “This should bring more re-assurance to families.”  Citing safety as always being the first priority, the manager suggested posing the question to the community.

What do you, our viewers, think about this turn of events?



  1. why would they not have, in the spring, allerted citizens that the tree’s had to be removed and set up a weekend that gardeners/citizens could all get together to remove the new growth for replanting in their own yards, and then let the city have at it for whats left? I for one would have gladly gone there with my shovel. It could have been made into a fun weekend with everyone benefiting.

  2. Was the WC aware of this clearcutting ? If, they were not, WHY ? I would assume, that being the cutting had nothing to do with CONDOS, they could care less ! Ms. Lefebvre, a lot of drugs are rampant in our high schools, are we tearing them down, whats next, ripping out all the trees in Guindon Park, that come within 150 feet of the bike path ? GET REAL ! This is pathetic at best ! The Police are being extremely well paid, increase their patrols three fold, and these punks will move elsewhere, to waste their life away. Was the Police Services Board contacted ? If not, why not ? At the recent Public Meetings, two members of that Board, (Tremblay & Finnucan) spoke out in favor of the beauty of Lamoureux Park, that would of been a step to take, before turning all of that area into mulch . This was a horrible decision, done far too hastilly !
    Public safety of course is paramount, increased suveillance, Police Patrols, perhaps thinning out that area, would have sufficed. Why not run, a six foot high barbed wire fence, along the waterfront, in the name of public safety ? Ridiculous ! lol

  3. Well, here we go again. Last time it was “CONDOS, now it is lilac bushes, druggies, survailence by the police foot patrol.
    Maybe it not a bad idea that we should sell all that property along the waterfront, to private enterprises and then it will be private property and the asphalt jungle,then we can say goodby to to a lot of committees and perhaps even some of the old boys club in city hall.
    Boy, we sure have some lovely people in the city org.
    Have a nice weekend.

  4. I agree with Shelley,I would have loved a chance to dig up some liliacs for my home,would have been way cheaper for the city,you would have thought that someone would have come up with this solution & perhaps been able to put up a safety net at ball park,be nice if council had a suggestion box asking for input on matters just like this

  5. What a revelation! Who knew that if you plant a bush you have to trim it yearly or it will get overgrown? Not our City Hall evidently.

  6. What a dumb response from Christine Lefebvre when she suggests posing the question to the community. Give your head a shake Christine. The time for consultation isn’t after the trees are destroyed it’s before. By the way Christine did you consult the Water Front Committee & were they in agreement with destroying those trees? If you didn’t why didn’t you? We deserve an answer

  7. Kids hiding in the lilacs?

  8. Fascinating for sure. But more important is; Were the chainsaw and chipper operators fluently bilingual? And if not, why not?

  9. Savings to the taxpayer ! The future reduction in Cornwall police staffing should result in millions of saved tax dollars . Cornwall thieves will relocate to greener communities now that they have no place to hid and the need for a special drug enforcement squad will now be a thing of the past ! Nothing short of brilliance in progressive thinking ! Let us now move on to filling in our side of the St. Lawrence river to prevent drownings .

  10. It’s obvious that City Council has no respect whatsoever for the citizens on Cornwall.

  11. I just would like to know Ms. Lefebvre, you say “This should bring more re-assurance to families.” Citing safety as always being the first priority. Why is it you do not put our safety (your own staff) as a priority?

  12. “Although the details are confidential and not available to Ms. Lefebvre, three weeks ago there was an alleged incident in which a little girl was dragged inside the bushes.”

    does this bother no one? why all the bitter cakes over council and the waterfront committee, and not one word of sympathy for that little girl?

    Not one word of disgust at this:

    “Inside lilac clusters were found picnic tables, wine bottles, beer bottles, glue packages, and several syringes. Apparently the number of syringes discovered is higher than found in other parks.”

    why is that? why is the removal of lilac bushes more of an offense to posters than an attack on a child? or getting rid of a disgusting health hazard and putting the safety of all the park users first?

  13. and……..why would Ed bring language into the debate? Thinking his post should have been deleted.

  14. We could have sent the beavers to look after the situation.

  15. Andre,

    Again, thanks for your participation, but just a thought, why not consult with the Cornwall Horticultural Society, and see if they could of come up with some type of solution ? They “may” of taken this on, as a long time project, and may have created a beautiful area, instead of Christine’s wastelands. Being, nobody seems to be answering the question, once again, was the WC made aware, of this clear cutting, and, if not, why not ? They are the responsible group that oversees all issues regarding the Park & the rest of the Waterfront.
    Thanks CFN for your coverage ……

  16. What next, now our beautiful lilacs are being removed – two weeks ago a young maple tree was brutily destroyed, next morning all the evidence was removed and the stub painted over.
    This is wrong, the park needs more patrolling and less catering to these hoodlums . The cost of removing these bushes could be used applied to hiring park supervisors.

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