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Trees removal begins as province’s Ontario Place development plans get underway

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Tree removal has begun at Ontario Place as the provincial government develops the waterfront landmark that’s been at the centre of criticism for years.

Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma confirmed trees have begun being cut down in order to update and replace Ontario Place’s aging and outdated infrastructure.

“As a result, tree removal is necessary to allow this work to be completed,” the Etobicoke Centre MPP said in a statement Sunday.

Trees removed from Ontario Place visible in the west parking lot (Credit: Norm Di Pasquale).Since the site’s redevelopment was first announced in 2021, community groups and local politicians have taken issue with the building of a private spa, multi-level parking garage and the relocation of the Ontario Science Centre.

Norm DiPasquale, co-chair of Ontario Place for All, visited the site on Sunday morning to witness the “tree butchers.” He said this is just the beginning.

“It’s indicative of what to expect when they cut all 850 trees and all vegetation on West Island,” DiPasquale said.

He said the government is operating on an “opaque schedule” and gave no notice that the cutting would begin this weekend.

Trees removed from a portion of land beside a bridge at Ontario Place (Credit: Norm Di Pasquale). The grassroots advocacy group filed an injunction last month to stop the provincial government from developing the West Island of Ontario Place, arguing the building of a private spa will result in the “complete obliteration of the naturalized ecosystem.”

The infrastructure minister said twice as many trees will be planted for every tree that is removed and six times as many trees will replace large, mature trees. In doing so, more than doubling the tree count.

Surma said the government has supported on-site environmental monitoring by select First Nation groups and will work with them to repurpose the wood from the removed trees, where possible. 

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