Neighbours rally around century-old oaks

Several neighbours are asking the city to reject an application to clear four old oak trees from the yard of the home at 103 Scarborough Road.

Based on their trunk width, the red oaks are likely 100 years old.

Owners of the home at 103 Scarborough Road have applied to remove four old oak trees from the property. PHOTO: Andrew Hudson
Owners of the home at 103 Scarborough Road have applied to remove four old oak trees from the property.
PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

In a letter to the city’s urban foresters, Scarborough Road resident Verinder Parmar said this is a case where the city needs to live up to its pledge to protect Toronto trees.

“Allowing developers to quietly destroy one enormous tree at a time kills our green space and urban forest canopy – two of the things we love most about our neighbourhood,” wrote Parmar.

The deadline for public comments about the tree-clearing application passed on Nov. 13, but Parmar said he knows of several neighbours on Scarborough and nearby Kingswood Roads who wrote in.

Maureen Mulligan is among them. In a letter to city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, Mulligan said she and others are irritated with developers who build “large houses with tiny yards in place of graceful old Beach homes with heavily-treed yards.”

Mulligan also said the replacement trees required by the city when it grants tree-clearing permits do too little for the environment.

“Tiny saplings do not take the place of centuries-old oak trees,” she wrote, noting two recent city reports that highlight the carbon-capture and shade benefits of large, mature trees.

Under Toronto’s private-tree bylaw, homeowners require a city permit to remove any tree with a trunk 30 cm or wider at 1.4 metres off the ground.

Besides the application, staff review an arborist’s report, public comments, and comments from the local city councillor before deciding to issue a permit.

Along with a $100 application fee and the cost for tree removal, homeowners who receive a tree-clearing permit must buy a replacement tree or pay the city to plant one at $583 per tree.

City council has vowed to boost Toronto’s tree canopy so that its coverage grows from 26 to 40 per cent of the city. Of Toronto’s 10.2 million trees, 60 per cent grow on private land.

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I live on Kingswood Rd., north of Kingston Rd. and over the years I have been here (’86) we have lost many trees. This past winter we lost 2 and one the winter before. The street looks completely different (needless to say). I think if the Oaks of Scarborough Rd. survived the Ice Storm of last winter there’s a message there. Please leave them be. Let’s not go from City of Trees to City of Saplings.

Thank You,

George McCall

I am sad to hear that someone would want to cut down 4 magnificent trees that seem to be healthy.

At the same time, the city does appear to have a double standard. When it comes to new condos, like the one proposed for 1327 Queen, the planners are quite happy to allow trees to be cut down to make way for a condo, with arborists reports exaggerating the supposed bad health of existing trees, and then the planners saying that some new sapling will be an adequate replacement – particularly untrue if the new tree is confined to a small concrete planter.

if a homeowner wants to cut down a tree in their backyard, they face a tougher time. Condo developers get favourable treatment.

The plan to boost he tree canopy is also a disaster. Where are we going to put so many trees? So far, whenever I see new trees being planted, the city is putting them where they should not go – like under hydro wires or where there is inadequate space between a road curb and the sidewalk. I also see a lot of trees being planted in parks where there is wide open space, so our parks are going to be turned into forests – when each park needs to be planned with areas of trees and with open areas with only grass. Quotas of any type are usually bad as it becomes about meeting the quota rather than doing what is right – quantity of quality.

This story is upsetting. Those three trees have been in the beach longer than those home owners of that house, and will continue to stand long after the present owners leave. It’s not like they didn’t notice the trees when they bought the house. There are beautiful gardening options on shady properties – woodland garden anyone? If there’s no safety concerns, there’s simply no reason to cut them. These trees belong to the community as much as they do these owners. I hope the city lets them Continue standing.

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