Lack of tree retention being pushed to the limit in Willoughby

New development permits showing reason for comprehensive tree bylaw

At the end of last Mondays evening council meeting, Councillor Eric Woodward asked staff where the Township is with any resources regarding a tree canopy bylaw. The response was basically just that there is no current council direction on the issue. Granted, it’s only 5 months into the new term and a tree bylaw is on the Council Priority list, but the number of trees up for demolition in the first quarter of 2019 alone is concerning. Last Monday’s three new applications are forcing us as a municipality to get serious and act promptly regarding having a real tree canopy strategy in our urban centers.

Over 74% of the Township is in the ALR, which we can’t relegate with a tree bylaw. This leaves us with the other 26% of Township land competing between natural and development resources. Later in my series about walkability, I will be arguing that we need trees in our urban centers, but for the sake of space, lets assume having trees where people live is actually a good thing for its own sake.

Councillor Kim Richter pointed out on Monday night that the

202A Street trees
202A Street Trees (7500 Block)

applications for consideration at first and second readings on that night alone were asking to cut down 800 significant trees in Willoughby. 420 of these were in Pollyco’s Latimer development around the 7500 block and 200th to 202nd. That application notes that the developer’s arborist says these are the majority of existing trees are alder and cottonwood species that are “short lived with inherent structural and health defects and not suitable for retention”. I’m not an expert, but I’m finding this a bit hard to believe nothing is worth saving, considering I live down the street and this is my typical running path and some of these trees are beautiful.

Regardless, so far in 2019, council has been asked to consider approving the annihilation of 975 significant trees in Willoughby and another 39 in Walnut Grove for 1301 new homes. While entire eco-systems are being dismantled, the number of “replacement trees” (which are often improperly planted or planted in areas where they will only be torn up) so far only equals 799 trees. How does this make sense? I’m a Realtor, so I get it, we need homes and we need to make way for development. However, the tree management solutions in the Township are grossly irresponsible and we are doing irreparable damage to our environment and insulting good city planning by thinking that we can just build a sea of multifamily units void of true greenspace.

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