07/11/2013 03:27 EDT | Updated 09/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Anger after Bluffer's Park meadow cleared

Nature-lovers who thought they'd found a little piece of paradise for birds and butterflies near Bluffer's Park were stunned to learn that about 7,000 square metres of meadow was plowed under.

But according to the city, the grassy knoll that residents like Donna Warner cherished as "a lovely untamed, untouched, natural unspoiled area" is little more than a weed-infested patch that needed to be cleaned up.

Warner said she was shocked to see a tractor plowing the park while she was out on her daily walk.

"Trees, birds nests, everything, apple trees, the whole thing being bulldozed down, flattened," she said.

Another local, James Thompson, said he was crushed when he visited the meadow the day after the parkland was cleared.

2011 decision to clear meadow for native species

"I saw birds of all species searching frantically, frantically, like they have lost someone," he said.

The city denies that it destroyed birds nests. It insists that its main mission was to rid the area of weeds.

"Those species don't contribute a lot to the habitat value for birds and butterflies," said Beth McEwan, with the city's Urban Forestry department.

Some residents said they did not know that a decision was made two years ago to turn the area into a meadow exclusively for native species.

Weeds are already beginning to grow back and, come September, city crews will return to the site to plant native species that they say will be better suited to local wildlife. But Warner worries that the removal of other natural features will mean no more bird and butterfly sightings.