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Court won't block Metrolinx from chopping down Osgoode Hall trees

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An interim injunction preventing Metrolinx from chopping down a group of mature tress from the grounds of Osgoode Hall will expire at midnight and will not be extended, a judge has ruled.

The trees, which sit on the nearly 200-year-old grounds of Osgoode Hall at Queen Street West and University Avenue, have been slated for removal by Metrolinx in order to make way for a planned stop on the new Ontario Line.

The trees sit on the grounds adjacent to Nathan Phillips Square and offer a rare bit of foliage in the downtown core.

The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) had been fighting their removal and won an interim injunction on Sunday from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that prevented Metrolinx from removing the trees after the work started on Saturday.

However, the injunction was set to expire at midnight unless it was extended.

Lawyers for the law society were seeking an extension in order to give Toronto City Council time to consider an Ontario Heritage Act application. However, a judge ruled on Friday afternoon that the injunction will expire at midnight and not be extended.

Written reasons for the decision have not yet been released and are expected in the coming days.

Metrolinx said it is pleased with the decision and will resume work “as soon as possible.”

“The Ontario Line alone will see almost 400,000 passengers every day, reduce crowding on existing subway lines and put nearly 50,000 more jobs within a short walk of transit. Riders can’t afford any more delays,” the Crown agency said in a statement.

Metrolinx has previously said that it held many meetings with stakeholder groups before the decision to cut down the trees and that the space is needed in order to accommodate the new line.

Meanwhile, the Build Ontario Line Differently (BOLD) Coalition, which is made up of community groups from across the city advocating for greater consultations and transparency from Metrolinx, said it is disappointed by the ruling.

“Metrolinx has a clear choice: they can either collaborate more meaningfully and change their approach to consultation or continue to expect fights and delays at every point of conflict going forward up and down the Ontario Line,” the group said in a statement.

“In the coming weeks, we will continue meeting with community organizers, business groups, political leaders and affected stakeholders as we plan our next steps to hold Metrolinx accountable.”

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