Hunt Club oaks may come down

Forestry staff at the City of Toronto are considering plans by The Toronto Hunt golf course to remove 22 oak trees from the east side of its nine-hole course between Kingston Road and the Scarborough Bluffs.

“The canopy got so big that it’s created blocked-sun, airflow and drainage issues on the golf course,” said Chris Neale, the Hunt’s general manager, noting that shade and stagnant air make it difficult for grass to grow well.

Neale said the club plans to replant twice as many trees as it removes, as per city policy, adding that in recent years, other trees from the property have been milled and used to build the Hunt clubhouse.

Neale said the club has also spoken about the plans with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, which looks after a strip of land on the east side of the golf course as well as the shoreline below the club property.

Staff at the City of Toronto’s forestry department are expected to approve or reject the removal plan by mid-January.

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I would like to go on record as being opposed to the granting of this request to remove healthy mature trees for the reasons stated by the applicant.
Granting such a request goes against all the stated goals and objectives of the forestry department.
Sustaining & Expanding the Urban Forest: Toronto’s Strategic Forest management Plan. Toronto, Ontario. City of Toronto, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Urban Forestry, 2013…/Files/pdf/E/every_tree_counts.pdf
“In order to improve and expand Toronto’s urban forest, it is imperative that existing trees and resources and the opportunities for growing and expanding them in the future are protected”
Imagine the precedent being set if this application is approved. Would this mean any homeowner could get permission to cut down a healthy tree just because they want a more pristine lawn? Should a privately owned facility which benefits a small number of individual members, (who may or may not live in this community) not be required to follow the same standard with regards to justifying the removal of mature healthy trees?
The fact that they plan to plant replacement trees does not balance what will be lost. It could take up to 100 years for the replacement trees to reach the age and size of canopy that will be lost.

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The decision to grant permission to destroy trees is made by the Supervisor, Scarborough District,Forestry, City of Toronto and Councillor Gary Crawford. Although this would seem to be a local matter the decision will set a precedent for all of Toronto. You can help by sending an email to both of these parties to register your opposition and encouraging others to do so. Be sure to include your name and address as they are keeping a file on the numbers for and against.

City of Toronto Forestry

Gary Crawford

The replacement trees will have a minimum caliper of 50mm or about 2 in. They will look like twigs compared to the mature oaks the are to replace.

Hi Neighbours,

The situation is worse than first reported in the Beach Metro News.

The Hunt club applied to cut down 41 trees. Forestry did a site inspection and found 19 to be unhealthy and 21 considered healthy.

The Hunt Club has been given permission to destroy the 19 trees deemed unhealthy!

The application outstanding is for permission to destroy the 22 trees that were deemed healthy. If successful they will be destroying a total of 41 trees not 22.

In light of this it is even more important that we fight to save the 22 healthy trees they are seeking to destroy

My first posting here is a copy of my email objecting to the removal of 22 trees on the east side of the golf course. You can just cut and paste or make changes as you see fit. Just remember to change my name and address at the bottom of the document to reflect yours.
They are keeping track of the numbers for and against this application so every bit helps. Please email both of the addresses listed below.
Please share with anyone concerned with saving our urban forest.

Thanking you in advance for your help.

Mark Denington

City of Toronto Forestry

Gary Crawford

If you own a house, just try to get permission to cut down a healthy tree. There is a double standard in this city that condo developers and others can cut down mature trees but homeowners cannot even if they made the same pledge to plant 2 trees, though on most lots this is not possible.

I love trees and think they should be protected, but this city has an absurd policy of wanting to double the number of trees – given how much of this city is already forested (ravines or covered with commercial uses, industrial uses, parking lots, roads, utility corridors, golf courses, etc. it mainly means that this goal is impossible to meet or that the burden falls on homeowners or on their land or on the boulevards in front of them.

Cannot believe this would be approved by Parks or our Councillor. The Club on this property was established in 1895 by British soldiers so the trees are culturally significant. Can’t imagine some reconfiguration of the greens could not address the issue of shading. We have lost so many trees due to the ice storm and Ash-borers. Oaks stand up to the ice and can live 350 years. Also concerned about erosion at the Bluff that this loss would cause. Should be more public consultation on such a significant decision impacting our community.

As owners of private property in the City of Toronto the Hunt Club was only required to post a notice of their application for 14 days. They complied with this requirement.
I would think that Councillor Crawford would be the one who would want to give his constituents an opportunity to get the facts and discuss the issues at a public meeting.
The Hunt Club is unlikely to initiate such a meeting.

There is a similar problem with Committee of Adjustment matters – a small piece of paper gets posted on a property for 10 days and it is often easy to miss because these look like flyers and posters put up for all sorts of purposes.

We need to make Councillor Crawford aware of the opposition to this application within the community. A public meeting would be the most democratic way to disseminate the facts and allow for questions. Even if their application is denied in full or in part, the Hunt Club can appeal to council.

Not sure why a PRIVATE golf course would seek out sympathy about difficulty growing grass, and want to cut down beautiful mature oaks that supply oxygen to all of us. If only trees provided WiFi perhaps we would consider them differently.

As discussed in a 2012 Toronto Star article it seems that private golf courses are allowed to defer a portion of their property taxes “Thanks to a decades-old agreement intended to preserve urban green space, a handful of exclusive country clubs — whose members have paid as much as six figures to enroll — are permitted to defer annual property tax payments.As of 2012 ” it’s cost the city more than $37 million in potential tax revenue” .
Seems they aren’t holding up their end of the agreement re preserving green space .

find the documentation proving the cultural/historical significance
there can be made an intent to designate as heritage trees – the contact is Toronto Preservation Services
a temporary moratorium on the cutting can be made – read more about Heritage Trees at
Jack Radecki RCA 342

Councillor Crawfords letter ,

January 29, 2016

Re: Toronto Hunt Club Tree Removal

Dear Residents,

Please be assured that I also share your concerns regarding the proposed tree removal at the Toronto Hunt Club.

The Hunt Club originally came to the City with an application to remove 200 trees. This figure comprised a combination of healthy and diseased trees as well as trees significantly damaged by the ice storm of 2013.

I’ve met with senior staff from Urban Forestry, SJM Arboricultural Consulting, and the General Manager of the Hunt Club. Together we have reduced the number of proposed Private Tree Bylaw removals on the golf course to 21 healthy trees, and 19 diseased or damaged trees.

The Hunt Club has approximately 3,000 trees on 100 acres. The General Manager of the Club reported to me that $30,000 has been spent on annual tree replanting since 2012. The Hunt Club also outlined their move toward a more environmentally responsible model than the typical approach to golf course management. In 2013 they initiated a turf replanting program which involves less watering, and significantly less pesticide and fertilizer use.

All healthy tree removal requires serious consideration. The City has clear guidelines with regard to this, and our tree replanting requirements are unequivocal.

The Hunt Club understands and will adhere to the parameters imposed by the City. I recognize that every tree has value on many levels. Replanting at intervals…

maintains a continuous healthy tree canopy for the future.

Signed by Gary Crawford, Councillor

Of the 22 trees the Hunt cub has applied to destroy, 19 are red oaks and 3 are white oaks.
“Red oak (Quercus rubra) is a tree species that is native to the Toronto area. Preservation of indigenous species is very important as the urban forest as a whole is much healthier when those species that are native to the area are abundant and healthy. Red oak trees can live up to 150 years.”
Brian L. Mercer, Urban Forestry Planner, Urban Forestry, Tree Protection and Plan
Review Section, City of Toronto
Referring to a healthy 77cm. in diameter red oak that a private property owner wanted to remove, Mr. Mercer had this to say “The character and benefits of this tree cannot be replicated by replacing it with smaller less mature trees.”
I hope that Mr. Ventresca at Urban Forestry agrees with the above statements made by a colleague. I also hope both he and Councillor Crawford will require the Hunt Club to follow the same rules as any other property owner.
In a democracy laws are put into effect by governments elected by eligible voters. If you disagree with a particular law you have the right to make your opinion known to the responsible elected officials. It is also assumed that the law will be enforced fairly with no individual or group being given preferential treatment.

Letter from Mark Ventresca
Supervisor, Urban Forestry
Tree Protection and Plan Review – Scarborough District

Thank you for your concerns and attention to this matter.

Urban Forestry is responsible at the City for guiding the maintenance, replanting and protection of Toronto’s highly valued tree canopy.

The Hunt Club regularly removes trees in poor condition as part of its maintenance program, it occasionally applies to remove healthy trees for reasons of maintenance of the golf course components. The Hunt Club recently contacted Urban Forestry with an application to remove a combination of 200 compromised and healthy trees.

Upon Urban Forestry professional assessment and consultation with the golf club, it was determined that it would only be necessary to impact 19 compromised, and 21 healthy Private Tree Bylaw trees in order for them to maintain the course. This is one of the reasons that the Tree By-law is in place – to ensure that trees are not removed unnecessarily.

This tree removal application represents less than 1% of the current Hunt Club tree canopy of approximately 3,000 trees on 100 acres. As well, the Hunt Club has demonstrated a proactive tree planting initiative for the past three years, spending $10,000 each season since 2012.

The City recognizes that it is less than ideal to remove healthy trees. The Hunt Club represents an impressive green space in the middle of an urban community. Urban Forestry met with Councillor Crawford, the…

Continued from above post
…. Hunt Club’s General Manager and Property Manager, and their consulting arborist to ensure that timed and strategic plantings occur which provide for the continuous health of the City’s tree canopy.

In their efforts to modernize the management of the greens, the Hunt Club has initiated a grass replanting program which involves less maintenance, including less pesticide and fertilizer use, and increased drought tolerance.

Tree removal applications for mature trees, on both private and City property, are stringently reviewed and require replanting plans. The City will inspect to ensure that the Hunt Club is following the requirements set by Urban Forestry regarding removal and replanting.


Mark Ventresca
Supervisor, Urban Forestry
Tree Protection and Plan Review – Scarborough District

SMOKE AND MIRRORS regarding the removal of trees from the Hunt Club.
First we got the news of the application to remove 22 healthy oak trees. Then it was revealed that they already had permission to cut 19 unhealthy trees. That means a total of 41 trees.
It has now been disclosed by councillor Crawford that the Hunt Club wanted to cut down 200 trees! (TWO HUNDRED)
Please call or email Councillor Crawford and demand that a public meeting be held to allow public input into this matter.
Councillor Crawford
416 392 4052
councillor_ crawford@

This is very typical in terms of the granted tree removal permit. By the way White Oaks are an endangered species in the Toronto area as they do not reproduce. In my work as a registered consultant I have seen extremely significant trees removed via the permitting process of the city of Toronto private tree Bylaw. Remember folks that this is not a tree protection bylaw. The leaf area/canopy cover formula would require hundreds of trees replanted to replace the ecological benefits of 1 large tree.

It pains me to report that contrary to their stated objectives the forestry department has granted the Hunt Club permits to destroy 22 healthy, mature oaks. The precedent has been set and the Hunt Club’s agenda has been made clear. They will be destroying 41 trees in February. We can only speculate on how long before they go after the rest of the 200 trees they wanted to cut down. I guess it helps to have friends in high places. So much for being good neighbours

What a feeble excuse offered by the Toronto Hunt golf course to cut down the oak trees.
Hopefully, the City of Toronto will recognize the important aspects of that canopy of trees and will ensure that they are protected, not cut down. With creative thinking certainly the golf course management can come up with an alternate course to find the sun and wind while playing golf.

Hi Neighbours,

Hunt Club Trees What I Have Learned

1. Mr. Ventresca at Urban Forestry had complete authority to issue a permit for the destruction of the 22 healthy trees. The decision was his alone.
2. Councillor Crawford had no say whatsoever in the decision for or against the application.
3. Although they keep a record of emails pertaining to an application, Forestry staff does not take those emails into consideration.
4. There is no provision for appeal on the part of the public to argue against a permit after it is granted. If a permit is denied the applicant can appeal and go before council to argue their case.
5. In order to view an application for the destruction of trees on private property you must apply to have it released under the municipal privacy act. There is a fee and it can take up to 30 days to process.
It looks likes policy and procedures within the City of Toronto has shut us out.

Mark Denington

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