More tree folly

After a lengthy period of time working with city engineers and planners, you get to catch onto the tricks and elisions that hide in the plans. We can never catch them all, but some get easier to spot. I especially look for trees at risk,

So when community members got a chance a while back to check out the temporary road works on Albert where it runs along LeBreton Flats, and the “final” plan for 2018, I paid close attention to things just off the edge of the plan.

Ah ha ! at City Centre Avenue near Albert there was to be some new sidewalk. There were trees off to the east of the sidewalk. I requested written notes to go on the plan that the trees were not be removed, and were to be protected during construction. Right Oh ! Small victory !

What the plan didn’t show was the new sidewalk was to be about 2′ lower than the old one. This meant excavating the old sidewalk and some of the adjacent terrain. Work suspended for the winter in December past. Here’s one tree left rather exposed:



And here’s another one:



I do wonder if the city staff and engineers showing us the plan realized there was an elevation change, and just let the (wood) chips fall where they may. If we had known of the new elevation for the sidewalk, we could have modified the plans to show a small retaining wall so crews on site would know what to do.

Anyway, an alert community member noticed that in January the City marked two of the trees for removal:





It’s pretty obvious in my eye that the trees, about 30 years old, could be saved. Over 50% of the root area is undisturbed, and the disturbed area was under the previous sidewalk so it is unlikely those roots in gravel were key to the trees survival.

Simply install a back curb or short retaining wall — poured in place or precast — at the outside edge of the sidewalk. Then wait to see what happens.

Community members requested the intervention of the Councillor, and we don’t really know yet what the fate is of those trees. Will the City decide it is easier and cheaper to chop down the tree? If they do, I’m willing to bet they wont be eager to spend the money chewing out the roots, so a new tree cannot be planted there. Instead they will claim to plant two, or even four more, nearby. That landscaping along the reconstructed Albert has to be installed anyway, how would anyone know if we really got more trees?

Right now, the City gives waaaay to much discretionary power to work crews on site. Montreal is more proactive, posting this notice first:tree notice montreal 2


tree notice montreal


Trees in Seattle, however, speak English, and this poster incentivizes residents to take action to protect their trees:

seattle 2014 120


Notice the protect tree sign is taped on; the Montreal sign is nailed on.

In case you are wondering, Ottawa’s notices look like this:

2 thoughts on “More tree folly

  1. A sapling a couple inches in diameter is not comparable to a 30 year old tree. If they had to replace those trees with trees of a similar size perhaps they would think putting in a retaining wall would be more economic. Perhaps they could price out how much it would cost to get someone to move the tree with a 90″ spade.

  2. This is precisely how a lovely healthy, mature maple was killed on Laurel Street when the pipes were redone a few years ago. It took the tree several years to die, was very sad to see, we couldn’t do anything because any retaining wall (wood, rocks) we’ve put up was destroyed by the contractor clearing snow from the restaurant’s parking lot.

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