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GREENINGS: Sing the same tune, PLEASE (August 2019)

September 2nd, 2019 · No Comments

No unity of purpose from arms of the city

By Terri Chu

Nearly a decade ago, a fire ravaged the beloved Children’s Storefront at 1079 Bathurst St. just south of Dupont. The lot has been sitting empty ever since, waiting for its next reincarnation. Now that Orchard Properties has a development proposal in the works that wait could be over. Like any development proposal there are problematic aspects, but the bigger problem is with the city and its lack of a coherency about climate change resiliency and how it is reflected in municipal decision-making.

Mayor John Tory likes to wax poetic about making the City of Toronto climate-resilient, but the city’s foot soldiers seem to be ignoring the memo. Trees are a vital part of climate change resiliency.

The proposal hopes to see a 5-storey mixed-use building with seven dwelling units, one commercial unit, and no parking spaces. It is a great spot to add more density, given the accessibility to public transit. However, if Orchard Properties gets the go-ahead to build as they wish – deeper and higher than what is currently allowed – a 75-year-old silver maple with three trunks which provides shade to six properties is more than likely to meet its end within the next decade.

The planned property design triggers rules for storm water retention and, in this case, involves the digging out of most of the root system of the tree. While we don’t know what the decision will be, we do know that the body that governs these decisions, the Committee of Adjustment, treats trees as neighbourhood nuisances. 

Mayor John Tory likes to wax poetic about making the City of Toronto climate-resilient, but the city’s foot soldiers seem to be ignoring the memo. Trees are a vital part of climate change resiliency. They soak up excess rain water (this means less flooding), they clean the air, and they provide pockets of enriched oxygen. Their usefulness should not be understated. Reforestation is a vital part to solving our climate crisis. Urban trees are as important as heavily forested areas as they do double duty in polluted environments. 

If the City of Toronto is serious about playing a role in the climate crisis, it needs to make sure that EVERY department in singing the same tune. It means that everyone needs to consider the climate crisis in decision-making, be it at the Committee of Adjustment or during sidewalk repairs. Taking the climate crisis seriously means that everyone who works for, represents, or makes decisions on behalf of the city, understands that Toronto will consider the impact of every decision, no matter how great or small, on our climate crisis and the ability of humans to continue living not just in the city but on the planet. Stop the speeches. Start the action. Every city employee and representative needs to start singing the same tune on climate to ensure Toronto moves forward on climate resiliency.

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Tags: Annex · Life