In a climate of one new sky-high tower after another, Toronto needs all the trees it can get.
This means planting new trees where possible and also doing all we can to preserve the city’s storied old trees. That’s why it’s not sitting well for many that we could lose five trees believed to be hundreds of years old to make way for Osgoode Station on the upcoming Ontario Line.
Metrolinx had previously suggested that it wouldn’t go through with the move until a complete independent review was conducted. So, naturally, the news didn’t go over positively when it broke earlier this week that the trees would be removed.
“Metrolinx and the province have an obligation to explore all possibilities to preserve these historic, heritage trees," a representative for the Green Party told STOREYS. "Greens support the need to build more transit, but it has to be in a way that’s smart, sustainable, and protects the people and places we love."
For a bit of background, a spokesperson for Metrolinx tells STOREYS that a draft/working edition of a community notice was shared with the Law Society of Ontario for further discussion. This notice outlines the upcoming Stage 2 Archaeology Assessment work planned for the property along University Ave and Queen. To accommodate this work, five trees need to be removed, says Metrolinx.
According to Metrolinx, December 5 is the tentative start date. With that said, it says work plans aren’t confirmed and are subject to change. Metrolinx tells STOREYS it is looking forward to the City of Toronto’s independent review of the technical details regarding the future Osgoode Station location.
“Work plans for the area are still being confirmed and discussed with partners. Once they are confirmed, we will share them with the community,” Metrolinx told STOREYS. “Metrolinx continues to communicate extensively with the Law Society of Ontario as well as the local community. This includes a community meeting that we will be hosting in the coming weeks to provide updates on plans for the Ontario Line Osgoode Station.”
The notice for this community meeting will be posted online here.
In the meantime, the City of Toronto is undoubtedly working away on their aforementioned review. “Before any trees are removed by Metrolinx, we want to see the City of Toronto’s independent review of the Osgoode Station site,” Tory’s spokesperson Don Peat tells STOREYS. “We would expect that report will be public and we further expect that Metrolinx will discuss all its plans publicly before any work is undertaken.”
Peat says Mayor Tory has met with Metrolinx about Osgoode Hall after publicly raising concerns with their plans earlier this year and that his office will be following up again in the days ahead. “Mayor Tory has a mandate from voters to get transit built, including the Ontario Line, but he will be advocating throughout this process for Metrolinx to be respectful of the communities around these projects,” says Peat.
The Green Party, however, says the premier overstepped his authority when he imposed the Ontario Line on the City of Toronto in the first place, which already had an alternative transit solution planned. "The Premier's actions to undermine good planning delays transit projects and leads to issues like this," a Green Party rep tells STOREYS.