07/16/2012 08:41 EDT | Updated 09/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Driver Allegedly Runs Over Tree Trimmer In Attempt To Protect Tree

A 65-year-old man has been charged after he allegedly ran over a man's foot and leg in an attempt to stop the man from cutting down a sycamore tree in Windsor, Ont.

The incident happened Sunday morning when two employees of a tree removal company were about to cut down the stately tree on Roseland Drive in Windsor's south end.

Upset neighbours showed up at the property and began arguing with the workers.

Tom Levasseur lives next door to the property. He is against the removal of the tree.

"You grow up with the trees. Trees are like family," Levasseur said.

Police said one upset homeowner drove his vehicle towards the workers. One managed to jump out of the way. The other had his foot and leg run over. He was taken to hospital.

The car then drove forward toward the tree to block it and the tree service eventually left, according to police.

The driver was charged with dangerous driving and assault with a weapon.

As of Monday morning, the tree was still standing.

"It's not their tree. It's not their property. It's not their concern," said John Staccone, son of Mario Staccone who owns the property.

The age of the tree is in dispute among those in the neighbourhood. The property owner, who arranged for the tree's removal, said it's between 60 and 70 years old. Others allege it's more than 150 years old.

Mario Staccone wants to sever the property into multiple parcels in order to build a home for his son and another for his daughter. The tree is in the way.

Coun. Drew Dilkens said Mario Staccone is well within his rights to remove the tree.

The incident has now sparked debate about protecting mature trees.

Coun. Fulvio Valentinis had previously asked city administration for a report on preserving heritage trees.

The report will be presented to council at its meeting next Monday night.

Fellow Coun. Alan Halberstadt said it's something that needs to be looked at.

"It seems to me that other communities have investigated this, and I can't say outright that other communities have bylaws or policies which would cover this, but I think it's certainly worth investigating," He said.

According to one city councillor, trees in Windsor's south end are a hot topic. Based on calls to the city's 311 service, Coun. Al Maghnieh said it seems to be one of the area's top concerns.

"Some of the 311 stats that we get sent to us every month, particularly in our wards in south Windsor, are tree-related, whether it's tree maintenance or planting or relocation," Maghnieh said.

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