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.