Friday, July 19, 2024

Tree Removal Policy for Aurora Ontario, How Effective?

Tree removal policy for Aurora, exactly how effective? I always thought that the shiny metal tag with an engraved number and attached to the tree trunk meant something. More like this tree will be preserved or never be cut down. My imagination runs wild sometimes since I am always on the side of the trees. Well, was I ever wrong. Someone told me this, a tree tag is simply a tree tag, meaningless. It is more like, this tree is an inventory item, nothing more nothing less. I have seen mature beautiful trees in Aurora that were tagged and many of them are now gone.

St. John’s sideroad used to be a beautiful country side road back in 1997. Probably even more of a country road before that. Driving during fall time it was like an escape to paradise. Never mind every season had something to expose. However, over the years sections of St. John’s sideroad drastically changed. St. John’s sideroad East of Bayview Avenue is almost developed and road widening is in the works. An interchange to Highway 404 has been proposed.

The stretch of St. John’s sideroad, West of Yonge Street to Bathurst Street, continues to be a beautiful treed view, full of mature trees. Some trees managed to die due to harsh weather in the past. Age is a factor too, and some died due to Emerald Ash Borer infestation. Some are under pesticide treatment by York Region. Every year the lit up evergreen tree still stands on one of the corners of St. John’s sideroad and Yonge Street, and I know some of you know the tree. Ask yourself when you drive by, how long?

During the Town Council General Committee Meeting at the Town Hall, November 3rd, 2015 Parks Manager Jim Tree presented an overview of a proposed Aurora’s Tree Removal /Pruning and Compensation Policy, and if approved, the policy will come into effect on December 1st, 2015. I will not question why this policy now? The treed views in a few places in Aurora will never be replaced. I continue to cringe (maybe you too)when I pass St. John’s sideroad and Bayview Avenue intersection, and I cringed even more last week when I drove by St. John’s sideroad East and crossed Leslie Street, near the very original Lundy farm in Aurora.

From the presentation: “Why do we need a tree removal and compensation policy? > Reasonably compensate for loss of vegetation and trees in the Town of Aurora on both private and public lands. > Consistency in how we administrate requests to remove trees in development applications, minor variance applications and tree removal permits under by-law 4474-03.D.> Compliance with Section 12.6 of the towns official plan “general environmental protection policies” and recommendation 7 of the Town of Aurora Urban Forest Study (UFORE). > To sustain, maintain and increase urban forest canopy over long term for the future benefit of the environment & citizens of Aurora.

I asked myself a question. How useful is this policy? Powerful? You will read later from the quick facts below that we don’t have many mature trees in Aurora now. In the past few years a lot of mature trees have been removed, especially in the North-East end of Aurora (C2 Lands), where current developments and some nearing the end, are taking place. Under the Ontario Planning and Development Act trees on lands to be developed can be removed; often many many trees where a tree by-law no longer applies. And there are cases such as this that I wrote about before, Tree Removal Dilemma 48 Trees Gone UNLESS. Do I sense any panic because trees are depleting in Aurora? Perhaps, or perhaps not. I would, especially knowing that in addition we have to tackle the Emerald Ash Borer infestation. A new Ash infestation is starting to make headlines as well.

If this policy was in place before all the developments on St. John’s sideroad (C2 Lands) started, would it help? The answer is ‘no, not really.’ The policy is not for direct replacement of the trees. The policy is set to administer tree removal requests more consistently between applicants. I have not seen a draft copy of the policy, but it is also designed to set compensation guidelines for removed trees. My guess, indirect replacement or monetary compensation to the town. I am glad that we will have a policy in place, but I am not glad because it does not prevent destruction of trees. The tree by-law exempts large site developments since they are subject to Site Approvals and the Ontario Planning and Development Act. No further comment.

More from the presentation: “Quick Facts About Our Tree Canopy.> All trees and shrubs contribute to the environment including non-native species. > Aurora’s 1.95 million trees provide 99 km2 of total leaf canopy area covering approximately 1,369 Hectares. > Aurora’s urban forest produced and estimated 7,100 Tonnes of Oxygen in 2013. > Oxygen released by the urban forest in 2013 was enough to support approximately 23,160 adult residents of Aurora, or 43.5% of the Town’s population. > Aurora’s tree canopy cover at 28% is the highest of all GTA municipalities who have participated in the urban tree study (UFORE). > The greatest proportion of the existing urban forest is located in residential areas of the municipality. > The proportion of large, mature trees in Aurora is low. Approximately 74% of all trees are less than 15.3 cm.A tree that is 65 cm in diameter stores 62 times more carbon than a tree that is 11 cm in diameter.

Yep, larger trees are much better for us and here in Aurora we don’t have that many of them.

Tree Removal Policy

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON


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