Builder to destroy one of Long Branch’s oldest and largest tree ‘The Black Barn Maple of Long Branch’ at 95 James Street

City makes settlement agreement with Builder

A builder applied to have an oversized house built on an undersized lot. The oversized house would require the Black Barn Maple of Long Branch to be destroyed. The builder took their application to the Committee of Adjustment (COA) who approved it and then the City and the neighbourhood appealed it to the Toronto Area Local Appeal Board (TLAB). The City originally objected to the tree’s removal both at the COA and TLAB. Then withdrew from the TLAB hearing the morning of the first day of the hearing. They with drew their tree arborist from the hearing and said they no longer objected to this 160 year old tree removal. The City said they had reached a settlement with the builder ( numbered company). The neithbourhood has been left to defend this iconic tree on their own. After pulling, the public were first told that that it was “ as of right “ which it is not. Now they are being told it is under litigation, cannot be discussed and are being deflected to the City’s Lawyer. The City has the authority to protect this tree through a motion of Council as a protected tree. If the City waits and does not take action now it will be too late.

Long Branch has lost 43% of it’s tree canopy

Long Branch’s Tree Canopy has dropped from 27% in 2009 to 15% in 2018. Long Branch has lost more of it’s tree canopy than any other neighbourhood in Ward 3 ( Etobicoke Lakeshore ). Study was done by UofT Forestry. If the City of Toronto will not save Long Branch’s oldest, largest and most historic tree what will they save.

The City originally objected to the tree’s removal then withdrew their objection to have this 160 year old tree destroyed. The City says they have reached a settlement with the Applicant/owner (numbered company). With the City’s ‘every tree counts’, increasing the tree canopy and ’environmental emergency’, destroying one of the landmark trees in Long Branch asks the question what is Toronto’s real tree policy. Long Branch’s tree canopy has decreased from 27% to 15% since 2009.

The City is now saying they will not do anything while it is in front of a tribunal Toronto Local Appeal Board (TLAB) but it will be too late. City Council has the authority to STOP this destruction but they need to hear from YOU! To prevent this from happening City Council needs to act now to protect this iconic tree.

If trees could talk! Our Black Barn Maple located at the rear of 95 James Street has witnessed the many trials and tribulations that only a local old growth tree could. When it was a natural sapling in the 1860’s, James and Martha Eastwood purchased 500 acres of the Samuel Smith Tract, running south of Lake Shore King’s Highway from Etobicoke Creek to about Thirty First Street.

Long Branch’s oldest and largest remaining potential Heritage Tree
This land became known as the Eastwood Farm lands and was dominated by the ‘Eastwood Black Barn’ which stood prominently in its place well up to the early 1960’s. The Black Barn Maple of Eastwood is well over 160 years old, this beauty is healthy, vibrant, and full of wildlife. Luckily our Black Barn Maple tree was not felled for development but was allowed to mature to be one of “Long Branch’s oldest remaining potential Heritage Trees”. The view of this tree can be enjoyed from most of west Long Branch The view of this tree can be enjoyed from most of west Long Branch. You can also see it when you’re driving south on Brown’s Line. If you Google “the Black Barn Maple of Long Branch” has some of the media coverage.

What can you do. Email or call your City Councillor and also contact Mayor John Tory and tell them to protect the 160 year old “Black Barn Maple of Long Branch” and ask them if the City is serious about protecting Toronto’s Urban Forest this iconic tree must be saved.

160 years old and still going strong

LINK To City Councillors and Mayor EMAIL

Comments


Johannes said at August 31:
I believe a place to live with the sun off your back and the rain off your head is much more important than a tree. Trees can be planted anywhere but a home is security.I find too many people put more importance on vegetation or an animal the human beings.

Donna W said at August 28:
Every old growth tree we lose before its natural end affects our planet in a terrible domino effect. Our descendants need every available tree in order to still breath & survive.

Wolfed Prendergast said at August 17:
Not sure if anyone noticed the absolute dump of a house behind that tree. Save the tree cut down that house.

Nicole said at July 11:
Atrocious!! Do not allow this to happen.

laura said at June 8:
In England we have tree preservation orders to protect older trees from being felled. So you can own your land, however you are prohibited from randomly removing trees. This is what is needed.

Robert Brehn said at June 7:
With all due respect, and as an amateur tree enthusiast, I wakes 5 blocks to see this tree and was disappointed to observe that it appears to be a hybrid of a Silver Maple tree, considered a weed tree by most people who know trees. Not to diminish from the trees long history, it is very likely, both visually and statistically speaking, near the end of its natural life. All good things come to an end.

   Editor: You are wrong on both counts.  We had a professional arborist Ian Bruce ( testified at many TLAB hearings) who gave a report saying this tree is healhly and has at least 30 years of life left. If you removed all the silver  maples in Long Branch there would not be much left. Our tree canopy in Long Branch has gone from 27% to 15 % in less than 10 years. The builder bought the property with the intent of cutting this tree down . Where is it going to stop?

Samie Lim samielim@yahoo.com said at June 7:
Suggestion to the home owner: Why not hire an architect to build the house or yard around the tree as a feature? There are many examples found in the internet where a house is built AROUND an existing tree, thus preserving it. The result is BEAUTIFUL!

Dale Spurvey's a former resident of 95 James Street, said at June 5:
"Makes me cry-feel to be losing such a loved 1, Please save the Maple at 95 James Street"

Annmarie Vrscaj said at May 29:
We need to save this tree for future generations. Why is it always money first.

Matt said at May 17:
How can I get a sign to save the maple? I see most of my neighbors have them and we'd love to show our support! Matt and Brittany.

AC said at May 11:
I can't believe what I am reading. Such a shame. Money runs the world! So sad to see that rules and regulations have some many loop holes. It looks like there is no protection for trees, even for the oldest and best one. What we will leave behind for our children. Big houses with tiny trees or no trees at all, if we keep the same pace. I really hope this group have the power to change the outcome and the future of trees in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said at May 10:
Tree make oxygen. That makes life

Paloma jaen said at May 5:
Pur trees are our lungs, our only way to survive. With no trees , we will not have spring summer fall and winter. Protect our trees and forests!

Kathy Rucska said at April 28:
The below was sent to both Mayor Tory and Councillor Grimes:

It has recently come to my attention that the developer that purchased 95 James St in Longbranch- is wishing to fell the maple tree on this property. This 160 year old trees value is not measurable. You cannot compare another large house being build at the expense of the value of what this large growth and rare healthy tree is worth.

This tree and others like it will save our environment.

They provide, food, shade and less fossil fuel energy is used due to what a tree gives. It also cuts CO2 and ozone emissions.

It has become well known that if we do not increase the amount of trees in the world that we will have no chance.

If the City of Toronto is serious about the environment and tree canopy which is increasingly poorer and poorer in certain parts of Toronto, then you must not allow this tree to be felled. If this tree cannot be saved - then I believe none others in Toronto can be.

To charge $538 to the owner in exchange for allowing this tree to be destroyed is absolutely nonsensical. It does not have a monetary value. It has environmental and historical value.

To plant a small tree in its place? It will take 160 years for it to become the Silver Maple of 95 James St.

Please, if the City of Toronto truly has a Tree Protection Policy- do not allow this tree and other healthy ones to be taken from us.

I also implore the City to 'step up' and start the planting of many more trees then what I have seen, where others have been cut down. Even the diseased trees and ones where there was no choice- I am not seeing new trees being replanted in their place.

Our only chance at saving the planet and decreasing the climate crisis is if we change our ways. Do the right thing.

Yours truly,

Kathy Rucska

Len said at April 27:
I contacted Mark Grimes and received the following response. It seems that the tree is doomed by a property owner's "as-of-right" building envelope.

Councillor Grimes
Tue 2021-04-27 9:28 AM
Reply all
Forward

Dear Len,



Thank you for reaching out to me so I may clarify the facts surrounding this case. We all share the upset over this magnificent tree. The house has not been advertised for sale and there would be other considerations involving various city divisions.



The city and I have spent considerable time and effort on this matter. In fact I directed for the City Solicitor to attend the Hearing to oppose this development on the basis of impact to the tree. It is indeed a pity we cannot secure the outcome we all hoped for.



Over many weeks, I have been in constant communication with City Legal staff to ensure that every possible avenue has been explored to save this tree. I have pressed Heritage Staff for a review of the tree, and they have stated that there is no historical evidence showing that a heritage designation is warranted. The bottom line is that despite our efforts to find a way to preserve this tree, there is no reasonable avenue for the City to save this tree.



There is no Settlement. The city is taking no position on the file since the city has no legal case to call. Urban forestry is no longer opposed (details below). The dollar amount assigned is the amount as set out in city policy it is not a settlement amount.



The rumours that City Council can act to save the tree are both false and misleading, there is no "vote" on this matter.



I trust that the information below will provide you with more clarity and dispel some of the misinformation circulating.



The filing of a document to TLAB that the tree has been designated Heritage is not accurate and that has been confirmed by Forestry Ontario. The various documents may be reviewed on the city website:

http://app.toronto.ca/AIC/index.do

Or we may forward them to you.



Why is Urban Forestry not objecting to the removal of the tree?



Urban Forestry do not object to the removal of trees when they are within a property owner's "as-of-right" building envelope – the Silver Maple at 95 James is in the property owner's backyard, and within their "as-of-right" space. What this means, is that the tree is located in an area where the property owner would not need any additional permissions to build within that space. Urban Forestry does not require property owners to build less than they are legally allowed under existing local zoning.





How have I been working to save the tree?

When this file first went before the Committee of Adjustment in September 2019, I wrote a letter to the committee to request a deferral of the application, in order to give an opportunity for the property owner to revise their plans in a way that would preserve the tree. My office and I have been in constant communication with City Legal, Heritage, and Urban Forestry staff to explore every avenue to save this tree, but unfortunately there is no reasonable avenue for the City to save this tree.



What is a Heritage Tree?

Heritage Tree is often mistaken for a tree that is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. According to Forests Ontario, (a not-for-profit organization), a "heritage tree" is a noble specimen because of its size, form, shape, beauty, age, colour, variety, genetic constitution, or other distinctive features. The nomination for a tree to be designated as a "heritage tree" by Forests Ontario requires the consent of the property owner https://www.forestsontario.ca/en/program/heritage-tree.



How can a tree be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act?

It is properties that are designated under the OHA – trees would be noted as attributes within the designation of the property, but are not the reason that a property would be designated as heritage. In order to designate a property under S.29 of the Ontario Heritage Act Heritage Planning Staff need evidence that demonstrates and explains the cultural heritage value of that property. It is real property that is designated and the designation by-law will then list the heritage attributes that are included on the property in question.

An example of this would be the Muir Maple associated with the Maple Cottage. The house at 62 Laing Street shares its lot with the maple tree on the northeast comer of the property which, through oral tradition, was the inspiration for Alexander Muir's ''The Maple Leaf Forever''. https://www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/oha/details/file?id=2527



Heritage Planning Staff have found no evidence relating to the cultural heritage value of the property at 95 James Street, and have advised that their research processes, which includes a review of the building and tax records, they are unlikely to produce information that relates to the tree.



Designation under the Ontario Heritage Act is not a good tool for conserving a tree that is a noble specimen as the legislation was largely framed with buildings or structures in mind. This is because:

• As explained above, Heritage staff would need evidence that demonstrates that this property is a significant heritage resource and that evidence would need to explain the cultural heritage value of the tree. We have neither of these relating to the tree at 95 James Street; and

• Demolition control is the primary tool that is used to conserve significant heritage resources and, as a demolition permit is not required to remove a tree, this tool would not be available to conserve the tree. As such it is likely to be difficult to conserve a tree on private property by using the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act.



Here is a presentation (publicly available) by the Parks and Environment Committee that provides more information on this matter: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2018/pe/bgrd/backgroundfile-112920.pdf. This presentation should be reviewed with the Report presented to City Council (Item # PE25.1): https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2018/pe/bgrd/backgroundfile-111717.pdf



The Status

The Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) met again on April 16th. Should TLAB approve the application, then Urban Forestry will be required to issue the necessary permits.



It is my sincere hope that the social media attention that this tree has received will serve as a plea to the developer to make changes that would incorporate the tree into the design.



Mark



Councillor Mark Grimes

Ward 3, Etobicoke-Lakeshore

City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Suite C48

Toronto, ON, M5H 2N2

tel: 416-397-9273

fax: 416-397-9279

Rasa Mazeika said at April 26:
I just saw the tree yesterday for the first time. Having seen the article in the newspaper, I could not find it, not realizing it was in the back yard. This is indeed a magnificent and rare tree. It would be a crime to remove it. Am writing to find out the status of the case now. What can I do to help?

dale Spurvey said at April 26:
Please save my old tree

Chris Caldwell said at April 22:
My letter :

Dear Councillor Grimes,

I am backing my neighbours and residents in protesting the allowance of a heritage tree to be destroyed. Thier form letter, which must seem familiar by now, to follow my own words.

It is earth day. As we struggle to undue the many messes we as humans have created in our environment and in our lives, the only respite from this collective insanity is do to ensure a healthy ecology. This ecology brings fresh air, cleans our water, provides food and life for plants and animals without which nobody would find appealing and quality of life would suffer.

If economics be the only factor that matters, then that tree and many like it are priceless. They cannot be replaced. Houses can, cars can, and you and I can but a tree of this stature is rare, indeed, very rare.

I strongly urge you to revisit any consequences to this and other old growth forest in our area and to go the distance by showing your constituency that you care enough about the heritage and makeup of longbranch to make this difference. Looking forward to your expediency and communication to the community with regard to this matter.

Sincerely,
Chris Caldwell
James street residence

GD said at April 18:
If this tree can't be saved, no tree is safe.

Judith Jones said at April 17:
How do I get a sign for my lawn, please.

I live at 46 Thirty Fifth Street

Thanks!

Diana said at April 16:
This tree is far to important to be cut down. First of all it’s part of our heritage and second is it puts smiles on people’s faces and it is the playground and sanctuary to our dwindling wildlife. Let’s put the profits of millionaires aside.. Humanity needs nature, especially now! I am writing to City Council and the Prime Minister right after this. Please do the same.

Cheryl Patchett said at April 12:
THE REMOVAL OF THIS TREE will create a precedent in the near future, (OR AM I MIISSING SOMETHING) and in the far off future, for the residents who have fought so hard to keep their own existing trees from near by builders who have no intentions of living in the house. ALL FOR PROFIT. So after a larger home is built and neighbours trees are permanently damaged, what impact will this have in the future to our neighbourhood landscapes? I thought the City was supposed to protect our trees. if a deal was made between the City and the builders, why is it not shared with the community.

Heather said at April 10:
Protect the tree! Our heritage in all forms is important!

Suzanne said at April 6:
Heritage trees cut down. Fields dug up and developed. Parkspace paved and developed. And we wonder why wildlife is moving into our space? The older I get the more I just don’t understand humans. Will we ever learn?

Tracey said at April 3:
I have submitted my email to both Councillor Grimes and Mayor Tory. Like many of the longstanding residents of the Long Branch community, I am sick to death of seeing healthy, mature trees taken down by developers.

Janis said at March 31:
If you are a business with lawyers and know how to navigate City processes you can circumvent Policy. Seriously, the replacement value is $568 - really City of Toronto? A tree and house co-existed as is for many years, The Committee of Adjustment should be investigated - approval given to build on the tree's footprint - intentional or incompetence? Thank you Etobicoke Guardian for reporting.

Cynthia Wheatley said at March 28:
What a shame it would be to lose this beautiful giant. If Toronto is truly serious about its Tree Protection Policy and keeping Toronto green, it will save this tree, as well as the other magnificent trees in this neighbourhood.

Matt said at March 27:
Save the tree! Having mature trees in long branch is part if the appeal. Without large trees the neighborhood loses its vibrancy.

Eileen Mokorich said at March 26:
Please do not let the Black Barn Maple at 95 James St be cut down . The developers will cut it down & then pay a penalty after.That is unacceptable as the damage cannot be undone.For once ,try to listen to the people who care & NOT tangle up with bureaucracy that rules the day.

Paul Di Cecco said at March 26:
What does Mr Grimes have to say. This is unacceptable. All in the name of profit. Trudeau wants to increase carbon taxes to save the planet mean while the city allows this to happen. Aren't trees suppose to help us reduce carbon in the air.

Paul said at March 25:
Unbelievable. This is part of our heritage - a monument! I am writing to city council. I urge everyone to do same.

Jenny Ribeiro said at March 24:
Protection for this tree is required.

Joanne Whidden said at March 24:
Please save this iconic landmark. It is such a beautiful old tree and they are just too many being cut down. Please please please intervene if you can and stop the cutting down of this gorgeous gorgeous black maple tree.

Ken Geiger long time Long Branch resident said at March 24:
Lots of trees on my 1884 property. Not so many on redeveloped lots. While I hope this tree is saved, although at 160 years (how was that determined) it could be near its natural life span if you believe Google. It also appears to be in the middle of the yard making a build around difficult if no impossible. A SUGGESTION; If the tree does end up being cut down then encourage the city and developer to make some responsible party in charge of the cut so the the trunk and other interesting sections of the tree can be cut to planks, dried, milled, identified as from the BLACK BARN MAPLE OF LONG BRANCH by branding and sold for souvenirs and furniture, not FIREWOOD.

Editors Note. The current house meets the bylaws. The proposed new house  is  an over sized house on an undersized lot. It would  be almost twice the bylaw ( soldier house or monster house) . The problem is the  build  wants to take the tree down for an oversized house.  A new house could be built with out taking the tree down. An addition can be added with out taking the tree down. The tree at the front will also eventually die. Can Long Branch keep losing it's trre?

Mimma Votano said at March 23:
They can build around it. We must save this tree. What happened to the circumference rule. I’m sure this 160 year old tree is home to many animals. SAVE this tree.

Steve Wessels said at March 23:
Enough, our Earth is being stripped of all its natural beauty. We need the trees for oxygen to live, and our children after us.

Ted Simmons said at March 23:
Save the trees.! Too many are being taken down needlessly for land development. What happened to the law about larger circumference trees being saved.?

Peter -long time resident of Long Branch said at March 22:
Why is the City no protecting this iconic tree of Long Branch? What happened to 'Every tree counts', the 40% tree canopy , Green Toronto ? Is this all political spine. When it come to the crunch the City gives into builders.

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