Today I witnessed the removal of all the trees lining Carden St from Woolwich to McDonnell. In the last two days all of these trees have been removed by a sub contractor in order to facilitate the construction of our transit hub. The saddest part was watching the last oak tree that we attempted to protect by chaining bicycles to it, be systematically trimmed and then chainsawed into foot long lengths. Sawdust, acorns and fallen leaves are all that remain.
The question on my mind was did anyone try to protect these trees? The trees on the south side in front of the train station spent 20 to 30 years of growing determinedly in our downtown core. Was there anyone within the framework of the project who advocated for their preservation in spite of the work being done for the hub? The contractor indicated that he felt the trees growing along Carden on the north side were non native, poorly growing trees that could easily be replaced. Maybe this is so, but where is the information that this was considered? There are no postings to indicate someone has signed off and that alternatives were given serious consideration but the removal of the trees was the only reasonable solution.
Mayor Farbridge in your reply to a query of mine regarding the tree bylaw you said, ” I think you will agree that this Council has made the expansion of our tree coverage, density and variety a community development priority”. The SUFMP states it applies to “Individual trees growing along roadsides, in residential and school yards, and on commercial, institutional or industrial properties” If the priorities are as you indicated, then the actions today are not in line with this. The oak trees were on either CN or city land and were some of the few well developed trees existing in our downtown commercial core. It would seem if this Council was truly making urban tree canopy a priority, there would be some transparent process and communication that would indicate to the public that the execution carried out today was the only alternative possible. Council can’t expect citizens to exhibit a greater degree of commitment to the principles of urban forest preservation than the city expects in its own projects.
I am sure that landscaping the area and planting trees will be part of the finishing of this project. But, in my lifetime I will not see trees of the age and quality of the ones cut down yesterday and today. They were well on the way to providing shade and cooling along Carden Street and it will be another 20 years before new ones match that. The higher probability is that the patrons of the bar across the street will continue to make the lives of any small replanted trees difficult and our predicted climate warming will challenge their growth.
I would like to know, what process was employed in this project to consider the trees growing on Carden and McDonnell and who is responsible for making the decisions regarding their retention or demise. Now that it is too late to save any of these trees, is their loss being recorded in the inventory referred to in the SUFMP so that the replacement trees will be chosen appropriately to continue the diversity of the forest canopy? SR