Fires, snow and diseased trees made headlines in Charlottetown in 2015

Dave Stewart
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Published on August 14, 2015

A demolition crew takes a break at the scene of an apartment building that was destroyed by an Aug. 9, 2015 fire.

Published on August 14, 2015

A demolition crew takes a break at the scene of an apartment building that was destroyed by an Aug. 9, 2015 fire.

Published on August 09, 2015

Intense flame erupts from the building and engulfs the fire escape of the building.

Published on May 08, 2015

An overview of the fire scene at the Rose's barber shop buidling in downtown Charlottetown, from The Guardian newsroom.

Published on April 21, 2015

Charlottetown resident Levi Urman leans on the stump of one of three elms that used to sit in front of Hostelling International Charlottetown Backpackers Inn on Hillsborough Street. Urman is one of many residents hoping to attend a ceremony honouring the 300 Dutch elms that had to be removed last month due to a deadly fungal infection.

Published on September 16, 2015

Work on the Victoria Park boardwalk project in Charlottetown has wrapped up. The boardwalk is pictured here before work began to widen it and make it sturdier. City council voted to spend $763,000 on the work.

Published on February 17, 2015

The snow cuttings on Water Street in Charlottetown February 17, 2015 are over the pedestrian's head after a major blizzard left 80 centimetres of snow in Charlottetown and across the province. The province is slowly digging put after the storm on Islander Day weekend.

Two apartment fires, a record winter for snow and losing hundreds of trees to Dutch elm disease were some of the bigger headlines in Charlottetown this year.

Two of the bigger fires of the year both took place on Prince Street.

CLICK HERE FOR SOME HIGHLIGHTS IN 2015

A fire that was deliberately set in the spring left 11 tenants homeless and closed a barbershop. In August, a blaze destroyed an apartment building just down the street and claimed the life of an elderly woman.

In total, Charlottetown firefighters responded to 564 calls in 2015, up 34 calls compared to 2014.

"It was a busy year,'' said Fire Chief Randy MacDonald.

It was also a year where the search for a new centrally located fire department continued. A spot on Capital Drive was briefly looked at but ultimately deemed insufficient.

Mayor Clifford Lee said discussions with the department is of paramount importance but it doesn't appear settling on a location is in the city's immediate plans.

Federal infrastructure money is required as well. So don't look for construction to start in 2016.

"Probably not. The last thing we want to do is to rush into this thing. We need to make the right decision long term,'' Lee said.

On the public works front, an extra $500,000 has been earmarked for the capital budget per year for snow clearing equipment, while council agreed late this year to a one-time financial boost of another $500,000 to upgrade equipment, which includes two new sidewalk blowers, in light of a winter that dumped more than 500 centimetres in the city this year. That's well above the 290 centimetres average the city gets.

Paul Johnston, manager of public works, said crews did the best they could given the circumstances. The city is asking business owners in the downtown to help out this winter by keeping their sidewalks free of snow and ice.

The city lost a few trees in 2015. After an assessment of all the elm trees, on public and private property, it was determined that there were a significant number of elms that had Dutch elm disease. Research led to the development of a management strategy.

That saw the removal of 286 diseased trees. Monitoring continued in the summer and 59 more diseased elms were taken down.

Tree planting continued this year, with 708 trees going in the ground. The city also engaged a tree care company to carry out a complete inventory. Approximately 9,000 trees were inventoried with data collected including things such as GPS location, tree species, height and canopy spread, general health and maintenance requirements.

2015 was also a learning curve for council with five news faces getting used to the public eye following the civic election in November 2014.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Victoria Park, Prince Street

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