In recent years, try National Tree Day (today!) has been a time to celebrate mature healthy trees in Champlain Park and to plant bur oak saplings with school children.
This year, more about the urge to celebrate is less prominent. This year, the Champlain Oaks is proud to sign on to BIG TREES of Kitchissippi. Here’s the News_Release Sept 23 (PDF will load) the group issued today, thanks to the initiative and hard work of tree reps from Westboro Community Association.
Many of us are angry. Here’s why.
One by one, large mature healthy trees in Kitchissippi neighbourhoods are being damaged and are dying–felled by excavations for monstrously large new homes and infill developments. As the damage and death occur, anyone watching or phoning 311 sees something equally monstrous: the City of Ottawa’s unwillingness to enforce the 2009 by-law that applies to distinctive trees on private property.
Before the 2014 municipal election, a group of people representing community groups and associations in Kitchissippi vowed to put the plight of big trees on the agenda for that election. This group is now BIG TREES, and we are calling for action on these issues:
- Accountability at Forestry Services: why was its last report to a city committee in the fall of 2011? Why does this branch of the City not report annually on its enforcement of the Urban Tree Conservation By-law? How many trees has it protected? The public has a right to answers to these questions.
- Acknowledgement that trees in the urban core are worth protecting: The City’s climate change plan (June 2014) talked only about “urban forest” on the periphery of the city–conservation zones like the Marlborough Forest. Has the city abandoned the trees that make up the canopy in the core of the metropolitan area? Let’s make sure the new Urban Forest Management Strategy includes healthy canopy in the urban core. These trees matter.
- Enforcement to prevent damage to distinctive trees: The City by-laws that cover trees on private property and trees on municipal lands refer to damage and the need to protect trees from damage. Look around at infill developments and the new huge single-family buildings on our streets and it’s clear that many trees are being damaged. These days, developers don’t apply for permits to destroy trees. They promise to protect them when they negotiate with community associations. But this has no legal force and even if it’s on a signed piece of paper, developers cannot be held accountable by a community association. The city needs to enforce its by-law. City councillors must demand that Forestry Services do so.