Last Thursday while walking along Harbourfront Drive we heard the roar of a chainsaw. A lakeshore tree was being felled within a small copse of willows that has long been a favoured site for osprey, eagles and other creatures.
Houses have been allowed to be built there and even given a variance to allow them to be only 15 (rather than 30) metres from the shore, but only with the undertaking of a covenant to protect the natural features of the environmentally sensitive zone.
We zipped down to city hall and were told approval had been given to fell three trees now and seven more in the Spring! Why? The homeowner claimed a tree had fallen last year causing damage. It was also suggested that the trees were not compatible with the owners landscaping objectives.
This seems beyond belief. The homeowner obviously spent time and money to get approval and variances to build as and where he did, knowing the trees were there and that he was obligated by covenant to leave the zone untouched. He now finds himself 15 metres too close? Even more incredible, the very officials who demanded the covenant now say it’s OK to disregard it.
No doubt willows are messy trees. They are also ideally suited to the riparian zone, being able to handle floods, storms, beavers, etc. while providing habitat and shore stabilization.
Eradicating 10 willows would require extensive backhoe gutting to remove all traces of roots. On the other hand, “replacement trees” required by the city would be much smaller, far less vigorous and small compensation for the loss to wildlife there.
Allowing these cuts to go ahead (along with much more uprooting planned to suit the developer west of the Prestige Hotel) is an appalling betrayal of that trust. Please let council know if you feel the same way.
Anne Kirkpatrick and Heather Blakeborough