2009 May 23: Play-in in a destruction zone

Play-In at Riverdale Park
Saturday, 2009 May 23, 10am

Riverdale Park by statue of Sun Yat Sen

Walking back from a wonderful talk by Thomas Homer Dixon tonight, I walked through Riverdale Park and was shocked to see that at least half a dozen mature, seemingly healthy trees had been felled in the area that has been fenced in for the last couple of weeks.  It looks barren and forlorn.  They worked quickly.  This afternoon, the trees were all still there when I met my son’s schoolbus.

I was informed only after the orange fence went up that the St. Matthew’s Lawn Bowling Clubhouse was to be relocated there.  Later, I read the article in the Toronto Community News about the project, advising that 13 trees would be removed so that the structure could be moved through the park so as not to disrupt traffic.  So in order to keep traffic flowing for a day, the city has decided, in its wisdom, to permit the felling of mature trees that take decades to grow.  The priorities are all wrong.

But I thought I had a bit of time.  There is a community group forming to oppose the loss of greenspace.  I was informed on Riverdale Rapids two days ago that a group calling itself Friends of Riverdale Park East was organizing a play-in this Saturday where people could gather and where I hoped to strategize next steps.  For a city government that takes so much time to decide on bike lanes, they move pretty quickly when it comes to cutting down trees.

The Riverdale Rapids note now features a response from Councillor Fletcher.  It’s interesting that she mentions that 9 diseased, non-native trees are to be removed.  The Inside Toronto article points out that four healthy trees were also slated for cutting.  And all the trees looked healthy, shady and beautiful to me.  It is impossible for me to believe that even 9 of the Riverdale Park trees would have been cut down if the city were not trying to make way for traffic.  It’s an excuse for a foolish decision.  The area makes me want to weep for the folly.

5 responses to “Play-in in a destruction zone”

  1. Ron writes:

    Couldn’t agree with you more Adriana, the city takes every opportunity to pat itself on the back for a plan, bike lanes etc, that never happen, then sneak in their usual pro car anti green agenda. Miller should be ashamed of himself. As for our counsellor, well, always a bit late and timid and very often just toeing the party line with her electoral soul mate mayor.

  2. Valerie writes:

    Although the lawn bowling clubhouse is intended to be used by the community, it may prove to be unsuitable for more than meetings of the Riverdale Historical Society.

    I remember when the Withrow Lawn Bowling Clubhouse was first made available for community use about 15 tears ago or so. I attended a storytelling event there. More recently, the clubhouse was replaced by a brand new, larger building.

    After the destruction of trees and large expense of moving this clubhouse, I wonder how long it will last before being replaced with a bigger structure designed to meet the recreational needs of the community. It could be a Trojan horse, if you like. So much for historic preservation.


  3. Valdemar writes:

    65 trees are to be planted in place…Information regarding the move was provided at Bridgepoint’s open house last year.

  4. Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu writes:

    Hi Valdemar,

    Thanks for the note. Obviously I’m delighted at the thought of 65 trees.

    If you compare the mass of 65 skinny little new trees with the mass of 13 majestic mature trees, you’ll find that this is the wrong kind of accounting. Those 65 trees will provide no shade and virtually no groundwater retention for many years. So while our grandchildren will likely benefit from the planting of 65 trees, we are the poorer now. And, of course, nothing was stopping the City from planting 65 trees without chopping down mature trees, which would have been the best of all worlds.

    The most galling thing to me was the destruction of trees to avoid the costs of affecting traffic flow. I’m not sure what city department calculated that the benefit of unimpeded traffic for a few hours was more significant than the benefit of trees that take decades to grow, but I’m pretty confident that if you asked a random sampling of residents, they’d come to a vastly different conclusion. Everyone I’ve spoken to is appalled by that decision.

  5. Magda Constans writes:

    I would like to add a note of how sad I am to see mature trees being cut down and replaced with new skinny trees …… My mother’s house had a beautiful blue spouce that had grown to enormous proportions over the last 40 years or so, and was majestic! There are a few more of the same around but ours seemed to be the biggest in our immediate neighborhood …… unfortunately, the tree started leaning toward one side more with the roots breaking through the soil on the opposite side, and thus became a potential danger, and sadly I started the process of involving first hydro to trim the top of the tree (because it was touching and sparking hydro’s top wire) and then involved the city to eventually come and chop it down. I miss the presence of this beautiful tree and it almost cries out to me, but because it was a city tree within the 4 feet of city property from our house, my understanding was that I had no authority to touch or attempt to have it cut down to size, and I’m not sure that it would even be possible to do. The city ended up replacing it with a small skinny tree …… almost humiliating …… standing in the place where a giant beauty stood!

    Magda Constans

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