City forced to remove trees planted at bottom of popular Toronto tobogganing hill

Just days after they were put in the ground, several trees had to be uprooted and moved at Toronto’s East Lynn Park after local residents pointed out they were planted in a potentially dangerous location.

Come winter, the trees would have been directly in the path of oncoming sleds, as the park’s slope is a popular tobogganing spot.

Photos of the new trees were posted to a local Facebook group and sparked lively discussion with hundreds of comments. Many residents voiced safety concerns, while others asked why anyone would complain about the planting of trees in a city park.

Michael Rusek lives nearby and was part of that discussion, which eventually got the attention of the local city councillor.

“There were three or four trees right at the bottom of the tobogganing hill,” Rusek said in an interview. “They were obviously going to be hazard.”

The hill wasn’t the only problem.

East Lynn Park seen last winter. Several trees were recently removed after being planted at the bottom of the park’s tobogganing hill. (Michael Rusek)

Residents also noted that other trees were planted where tents are set up for summer markets in the park.

Coun, Brad Bradford, who represents Ward 19, Beaches-East York, said 27 new trees were planted in the park last week, including spruce, oak, maple and Kentucky coffee. His office got word of the residents’ concerns shortly after they were planted.

“Unfortunately, the community had not been consulted on this,” Bradford said in an interview.

The councillor quickly organized a meeting at the park with city staff, residents and the Danforth Mosaic Business Improvement Area. It was decided that six trees would be uprooted and moved.

Bradford says the contracted tree planting crew was still working in the area and it’s not uncommon for trees to be moved shortly after planting.

Michael Rusek lives near East Lynn Park and was one of the residents concerned about the location of several recently planted trees. (Trevor Dunn)

“It wasn’t a big deal to have them come back and move the trees to a better location.”

Bradford said the cost of moving the trees will be negligible since tree relocation is included in the crew’s contract.

Tree planting is priority for the City of Toronto, as it aims to increase its tree canopy from 27 to 40 per cent in order to combat climate change and create a more resilient environment.

Brad Bradford, councillor for Beaches East York, hopes the temporary makeover on part of the Danforth, will show the community what safe street design can look like. (@BradMBradford/Twitter)

With so many trees being planted in city parks, Bradford says it isn’t realistic to expect resident consultation on the location of each one. But the councillor regrets it didn’t happen in this case, since East Lynn is such a busy park that hosts a wide range of programs and activities.

“It would have been a lot better if there had been some outreach to the community,” Bradford said. “We could have avoided some confusion.”

A total of 27 trees were planted at East Lynn Park. These ones were not relocated, although some residents pointed out their proximity to the park’s skating rink. (Trevor Dunn)

Meanwhile, Rusek is happy with the outcome and says the Facebook group played a big role. He says it hosted a productive discussion among residents and led to a timely response from local government.

“Clearly we don’t want our city councillor micro-managing where individual trees are planted, but when there is an issue, it’s important that it’s recognized quickly, and that’s where social media can connect local residents with decision makers,” Rusek said.

CBC | Toronto News

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