Councillor Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee Member for Community Service and Health
Radloff Park has a number of old Quercus Robur (English Oak) trees planted throughout the facility.
These trees have branches with a tendency to significantly die back in the tree canopy. Some of the trees are up to twenty metres tall and the risk of falling dead branches is a danger to the users of the park.
The Recreation and Parks Department is committed to preserving and protecting all trees within the city, however the safety of residents while at City facilities is a top priority.
As such, proactive measures were taken to prune branches at the park in order to lift the tree crowns. This could only be achieved by removing lower tree branches on various species of trees.
Some trees which tend to have thick lower branches which when pruned, leave the appearance of the trees comparatively open and bare. This was considered a favourable secondary benefit of clearing dense lower branches, as it increased visibility in pockets of the park, which previously served as havens for illegal and anti-social behaviour.
By opening up the lower branches, it allows for one to see through the park from afar and opens up new pathways for users in parts where stolen items were found hidden in lower vegetative parts of trees and oftentimes were areas inhabited by homeless people.
It is unfortunate that a marked increase in the number of homeless people living in parks due to the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, has had a direct impact on the need to increase safety measures where possible in parks such as Radloff.
Meetings with the Friends of Radloff Park (FORP) were unfortunately discontinued due to the restrictive national lockdown regulations in previous months.
This was unfortunate as the usual updates on communicating maintenance at the park could not take place. Moving forward, the City will ensure better communication with this important partner of the park.
Management has investigated the matter of two small trees which were identified as community favourites and confirmed that significant pruning was done because the trees were located in an area of the park with thicket vegetation, and one of the trees had two large branches which were already broken and blocking the pathway.
Communication with FORP will be revisited to ensure that regular and ongoing engagements are reinstated.
The department acknowledges the ecological, environmental and social benefit that the trees have and also recognises the sentimental value that they hold for many members of the community.
Where possible, preservation is prioritised and we remain open to collaborate with the community to finding sustainable solutions to health and safety risks at the park.