FREDERICTON - After a lively meeting Thursday evening at Fredericton City Hall, it did not take long for trees to be removed from Officer's Square.

The province had given the city permission to remove a few of the trees beside a retaining wall, but the speed of the removal sparked anger among some residents and one observer called it a “sham” as trees were felled.

Fredericton Coun. Bruce Grandy defended the decision Friday.

“In this portion we need to get the road work done, we need to the traffic back going,” he said. “They're hard decisions, but that's part of the decision. That wall is not stable at this point with the root system of those trees going through the wall.”

Resident Beth Biggs wasn’t buying that assessment.

“If you take a look on the other side of the fence, there are no roots permeating at all,” she said.

Initially, 19 trees were to be removed as part of a $9-million renovation in the downtown park. The plans were put on hold after word got out about how many trees would actually be coming down.

“I think they're all at risk,” Biggs said. “If you look at the plan, even the tree in front of the sport Hall of Fame, the trees in front of the craft school, the front of justice building, they’re all too close to fences, so they’re pretty much saying we're just cutting them all down.”

The city argues that work on the retaining wall could no longer wait.

“It was a safety issue during the concert we had for The Tragically Hip,” Grandy said. “A piece of it fell on somebody and it’s not in good shape, the border is not in good shape.”

People at the meeting Thursday night were angry about not having the opportunity to speak.

“They called a special meeting of this nature with less than 24 hours' notice,” Biggs said. “That’s not doing their job.”

The city has a called another public meeting for June 26 to talk about what should be done about the larger more mature trees in officers’ square.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.