Hypocritical and Hostile Municipal Environmental Policies

Bonnie K. Goodman
6 min readMay 4


By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The author in front of the cut-down tree in 2015

This morning, May 4, 2023, at 7:30 AM, a bucket truck came to my home in Cote Saint-Luc, Quebec. They started cutting down the beautiful blooming Norway maple tree from the top branches. Hydro-Quebec had cut the branches closest to the wires last fall, and no branch had fallen during the early April ice storm. There had been a red line on the trunk, I asked my landlord about it, but he had not been informed of anything, so we both believed that it meant nothing and maybe just meant they would prune the top branches around the Hydro wires again. I presumed the tree was safe for the season when the leaves started coming out, and they had not cut it.

I was shocked because the tree was always fully crowned, and did any bugs eat up the leaves in summer or fall? By all accounts, the tree appeared healthy. The tree was a simple joy; it was big and beautiful every season, from the baby green buds in spring to the red, orange, and yellows in autumn. It covered all my front windows, natural shade in the summer; it was equally enchanting when stormy and windy outside. Squirrels would play on the branches so close to my windows. The tree was the main reason I chose to rent this house. My mother died last fall, and I was looking forward to the comforting glow and shadows of the leaves this spring to perk me up after a long and challenging winter.

The tree this morning as they cut from one of my windows.

The city makes a huge deal about caring for the environment and greening the city, including planting trees. To see this large beautiful cut down was upsetting and horrifying to see. On Côte Saint-Luc’s Trees and urban greening page, they write, “Let’s green our city, which enhances its beauty, reduces the heat-island effect, adds much-needed shade for children to play, and improves our quality of life.” The city writes about its “public tree campaign,” recounting, “In order to increase the city’s tree inventory, we increased our annual tree budget from $100,000 to $200,000 for the years 2021, 2022 and 2023. This year we are planting 296 trees on lawns, parks, and other green spaces for all to enjoy. “ [1]

My landlord, who is elderly, asked me to contact the city as to why they cut the tree because he could not get upset for his health, but he did tell me repeatedly to “give them hell.” First, I contacted my city councilor and left him a message, but he has yet to call back. In fact, after my message, he blocked my phone number because it rang once and went to voice mail. However, I called with a private number that rang several times before going to voice mail. Why does a city councilor have to block a constituent over asking about the reason for cutting a tree?

Then, I contacted Cote St-Luc’s public works department and spoke to Chris Pidgeon; for 15 minutes, I tried to get him to explain why this beautiful tree had been cut down and why the owner, my landlord, was never notified. Throughout the call, he was hostile, saying the residents and owners did not have to be notified. He seemed to blame me multiple times during the call because I called now, the tree had a red line on its trunk, and I did not call before. When I asked if it would have helped, he said they would have still cut down the tree. So why did he have to deflect the blame on me?

He also changed his story about why the city cut it down during the call under his recommendation. First, he said the branches over the driveway were rotted, and the tree would not have been balanced by cutting those branches. When I countered he could have cut the other side, he changed his story saying the branches along the top of the house were rotted, which is why the whole tree had to be cut down.

The tree is in my windows; it did not look rotten, and the leaves were all budding and growing. The tree next door always seems to have a bug problem and, at some point, constantly eats up its leaves in August, yet he said that tree was healthy. When I asked for the report on the tree, he refused, saying he did not have to give it out. He became more hostile when I asked him to explain scientifically and expand on what kind of rot. No matter his explanation, an owner of a dwelling should be informed about a tree on their property that affects their property, how it looks, and its curb appeal.

Environmentally, I can attest squirrels and birds, including cardinals, live in that tree, and taking it away upsets the ecosystem in this area. I know the City of Cote Saint Luc considers them pests, but we should care about the animals it affects and the beautiful tree cut without notice. If the city cares about greening and the environment, they should not get mad at residents who are upset but politely inquire why this had to happen. In addition, reports diagnosing the tree and decisions behind cutting it down should be transparent and a publicly accessible document, not shrouded in secrecy. At the municipal level, a matter like this should not be a mystery, nor should the city cover up an environmental issue when asked; it only makes their motives questionable. Behavior like this is why the public demands transparency from their politicians, but bureaucracies prefer saying because they said so to the truth.

Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS, is a librarian and historian. She is pursuing an M.A. in Jewish Education as part of the online program at the Melton Centre of Jewish Education at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of “Silver Boom! The Rise and Decline of Leadville, Colorado as the United States Silver Capital, 1860–1896,” “McGill University’s Complicated History of Antisemitism and Now anti-Zionism,” and the viral article, “OTD in History… October 19, 1796, Alexander Hamilton accuses Thomas Jefferson of having an affair with his slave creating a 200-year-old controversy over Sally Hemings.”

Ms. Goodman has a BA in History, and Art History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies, where she focused on Medieval and Modern Judaism. Her research area is North American Jewish history, particularly American Jewish history, and her thesis was entitled “Unconditional Loyalty to the Cause: Southern Whiteness, Jewish Women, and Antisemitism, 1860–1913.”

Ms. Goodman contributed the overviews and chronologies to the “History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–2008,” edited by Gil Troy, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and Fred L. Israel (2012). She is the former Features Editor at the History News Network and reporter at Examiner.com, where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She currently blogs at Medium, where she was a top writer in history, and regularly writes on the “On This Day in History (#OTD in #History)” Feature and on the Times of Israel. Her scholarly articles can be found on Academia.edu. She has over fifteen years of experience in education and political journalism.

[1] https://cotesaintluc.org/services/environment-and-waste/greening-the-city/tree-for-my-neighbourhood/



Bonnie K. Goodman

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University) is a Professional Librarian (CBPQ) & historian. Former editor @ History News Network & reporter @ Examiner.com.