Toronto’s oldest (250 years) and biggest (24.5 metres or 80 feet) red oak lives beside a bungalow in the backyard at 76 Coral Gable Drive in North York.
The City of Toronto has agreed to purchase the property, tear down the house and create a parkette showcasing the tree. The completion of the sale is conditional upon the City fundraising $430,000 by December 12, 2020. The City will match private donations $3 to $1 donated. As of November 13, $256,819 has been raised – that’s about 60% of the goal.
In the event the campaign falls short, the money raised will go to to Toronto Urban Forestry’s Community Planting and Stewardship Grant and the Greening Partnership Grant programs. These programs support tree planting and stewardship on private land and publicly accessible green spaces in Toronto, helping reach the target of 40 per cent tree canopy cover in the city.
There is increasing pressure for redevelopment in Toronto, and environmental concerns are often ignored to make way for the heavy equipment and new bricks and mortar. I know this to be true watching and fighting over-development in my own community. Just a few years ago, on Good Friday when no officials would be around to stop it, a front-end loader dug a huge hole where once stood a bungalow just down the street from here. They dug the hole so close to half a dozen mature spruce trees they wobbled in the breeze and the tops of some had to be lopped off to prevent them from falling on the nearby homes. These trees were all destroyed. That left one mature tree on the property. The crew running the sewer lines to the 2 new homes squeezed onto the lot cut the main roots and that tree too died.
Up the street from here, 3 mature walnut trees were destroyed to make way for a monster home not so long ago. I asked the owner if she couldn’t find a way to build around them and save these trees. She told me she loved the trees and wanted to save them but she had no choice. “It’s my dream home,” she said. It may have been her dream home but that didn’t stop her from putting the property on the market.
I expect intensification pressure to continue in Toronto and we will lose many more mature trees in the City. Sure, new trees are planted, but it takes a very very long time for them to mature. We have right now an opportunity to protect one very old, very big tree. I recognize we are in very tough times right now with the pandemic at hand and the restrictions on business that come with it. If you’re doing OK through this and you can afford a few bucks toward this campaign, please donate. We did. I’d ask also that you tell your friends and share this message. The deadline is approaching quickly. Finally, I’d like to recognize Mark and Mary Cullen, who have made a leadership donation of $100,000 to this campaign.
I love big old trees, I really do. I dont love Toronto crying poor over this one though and begging for money from city residents. If the city wants to find money they need only tap the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. I am pretty sure the TRCA has unlimited funds available for conservation projects like this. What makes me think they have gobs of cash? Well, I live quite a ways north of Toronto near Alliston and I often take a scenic route home from Toronto. I will detail one route that I like to take and I very much encourage readers to get on google maps and virtually follow my route because it will be a bit of an eye opener. I start my route on highway 50 which runs northwest starting at the northwest corner of the city at highway 7. I drive north on this highway 50, Then through Bolton and I continue north. I drive through the town of Palgrave and continue north until I come to highway 9. At this point highway 9 is a full 30 km north of Brampton. I will turn west on highway 9 which would take me right into Orangeville in 6-7 minutes if I stayed on it but I dont. The first road I come to is called concession road 5 and I turn north on this road and it is a nice rural drive on a dirt road that takes me pretty much right home. If you are following along on google maps you should see 3 fairly large rectangular shaped chunks of land colored green a couple of kilometers north of hwy 9 and if you are zoomed in enough you will note that google labels them ‘conservation lands’. For years I thought theses conservation lands were owned by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority since the Nottawasaga River runs just 3-4 miles to the north west. One day I checked a map that showed the lands the NVCA owned and the 3 tracts werent on it. Well then they must be owned by the Credit Valley Conservation Authority because Orangeville and the Credit River are just a bicycle ride to the west. Nope. It took some research but I finally discovered that the 3 tracts are owned by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. That sort of rocked me because the land is so far from Toronto that being owned by the TRCA is just insane. It strikes me that if the TRCA has enough cash to be buying up woodlots that far from Toronto then they should have great gobs of cash to contribute to a conservation type project that is actually IN Toronto. If I lived in Toronto I would be very uncomfortable with the city trying to shame residents into donating cash to save one tree when there is already what is clearly a well funded organization (that is buying up land waaay outside of the city) which already has a conservation mandate. The cost of this is a bit of a head shaker as well. It wants to fundraise $430,000 and if they can do that they will kick in 3 x $430k or an additional $1,290,000 of taxpayer money. So this single tree is going to cost $1,720,000 to maybe save. I say maybe because if it is actually 250 years old it might well drop dead of old age or city pollution in a couple of years anyways. I love old trees, I really do but right now Toronto’s mayor is off begging the province for cash for hospitals to fight the Wuhoo Flu and to pay for social programs to help folks who have been badly hurt by the epidemic. If I lived in Toronto and couldnt find affordable housing or affordable child care I might take a pretty dim view of the city spending that much cash on one tree, Just sayin.
Where I live I can buy tree seedlings in tiny quantities for a dollar each. I bet if I wanted to buy say 3,000,000 tree seedlings that I could do that for less than $1.720,000. Those 3 million seedlings might be a better use of that much money if the city just gave them away to anybody with land who would actually plant a few. That seems like a better use of the money to me. I admit though that I fled the city about 45 years ago so I should just shut up and mind my own business which is something I will do now.