Toronto neighbourhood rallies to save 160-year-old tree slated to be cut down
TORONTO -- Residents are mobilizing to rescue a historic tree in Toronto, believed to be more than 150 years old, that may soon face the axe.
The old silver maple is located in the backyard vacant bungalow on 95 James Street in Etobicoke's Long Branch neighbourhood.
“You can see this tree from many blocks around,” Sheila Carmichael told CTV News Toronto. “This tree is called the ‘Black Barn Maple of Eastwood’ because this property was once owned by the Eastwood Family, and they are saying this tree is 160 years old.”
Carmichael and her friend, Donna Struk, are part of a group trying to save the tree, which was believed to be planted more than a century and a half ago.
The bungalow is scheduled to be torn down by the new owner and replaced with a two-story detached home.
In the plans submitted to the city, the tree would be removed to make room for the new build, but neighbours say the canopy provides a home for area wildlife and cannot be taken down.
“Without this tree, you lose habitat. We have squirrels, raccoons and birds. If this tree is taken down they lose that habitat,” Donna Struk told CTV News Toronto.
The local city councillor for the area says there’s not much that can be done to save the tree as the tree is on private property and it does not have a heritage designation.
“There is no historical evidence showing that a heritage designation is warranted,” Councillor Mark Grimes said in a statement to CTV News Toronto.
“Unfortunately, there is no reasonable approach for the city to save this tree. I hope the social media attention this tree has received will serve as a plea to the developer to make changes that would incorporate the tree into the design.”
The city’s Urban Forestry department says the tree is healthy, but the city reached a settlement with the property owner.
At this time Urban Forestry said it has not received an application to injure or remove this tree.
The development application for 95 James Streeet remains with the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) and decisions about the development application will be made by TLAB.
CTV News Toronto contacted the lawyer representing the property owner, but we did not hear back.
Neighbours say they not giving up. They hope they can save the tree at a Toronto Local Appeal Board hearing next week.