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GREENINGS: A lament for the tree inventory (Mar. 2024)

April 7th, 2024 · No Comments

As more people move in, more green space needs to be considered 

Spring is my favourite time to get outside and enjoy what park spaces this city has to offer. Sadly, there really isn’t that much of it. In the Annex, we have a few strips north of Bloor where homes were taken out for the subway, there’s Taddle Creek Park, and then there’s Jean Sibelius. It really is scant green space for the 14,000 people who call this area home. In case you haven’t noticed, the Mirvish Village development on the old Honest Ed’s lot is near completion, and it won’t be long before 1000s more call this area home, competing to use the green space that’s available. The little green space we have is also losing its beautiful canopy coverage. 

We have been continuing to survey and document the neighbourhood trees for the 10-year neighbourhood tree update. The data is still preliminary but 1 in 4 trees that were standing in 2011 are now gone. This is a huge loss when we think about how large many of these trees were and that the replacements are mere saplings. What makes this worse is that there is only one new sapling planted for every two trees lost. If this sounds like a green space crisis to you, you would be correct. Losing 25 per cent of standing trees over a decade is a huge loss. For those of you with children at Huron Public School, you will know that the large beloved tree that stood in the yard is no more. 

Over a half dozen trees came down at Jean Sibelius last year from what I consider overzealous chopping. Many of those trees presented as healthy according to our team of surveyors, and I do not accept the city’s response that they were a safety hazard. Children are supposed to climb trees. They took down trees for fear of children climbing them. I cannot stress enough how our extreme safety culture causes damage to our environment and even our children’s development. 

Some things you can do to help. Plant a tree (or three). We need neighbours to plant trees in every spot that is available. If you have lost a tree on your property, it is especially important to get one into the ground. If there is a larger, older tree near you, plant one close to it now so it’s not completely barren sky when the inevitable happens and the large, majestic tree has to come down. It’s possible. 

Let the city know that you want trees in parks replaced. Those trees in Jean Sibelius Park should never have come down in the first place. Be loud about getting them replaced. Also, let the city councillor, Dianne Saxe know that you support the idea of pop-up picnic tables along the northern edge of the park. Taking away unused car space and returning it to the community as much as we can is the only way we will have more, much-needed green space in this city. 

Toronto is a city of three million people. We need to put more developments upward, along transit corridors. We should be supporting taller projects that are right on the subway. However, these developments should be car-free, and the tradeoff is that more people on foot need more pedestrian spaces. We need wider sidewalks, not wider roads, the latter is simply an exercise in futility. 

Terri Chu is an engineer committed to practical environmentalism. This column is dedicated to helping the community reduce energy and distinguish environmental truths from myths.


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