Hydro One agrees to keep Summerhill trees

Safety concerns prompted plan to cut them down

The number of trees targetted for removal along midtown’s hydro corridor has been significantly reduced after homeowners in Summerhill complained about the potential loss of their local tree canopy.

Following a May 28 meeting with residents, Hydro One said they have altered their vegetation maintenance program in the midtown core to focus on a selective tree-by-tree consultation process and will look to alternatives, like pruning, where appropriate.

The utility was originally coming in to do maintenance this spring to ensure foliage along the hydro lines from Birch Junction to Avenue Road and Gange Avenue does not interfere with power delivery or pose a safety risk. According to Hydro One, that would have meant the removal of trees.

Homeowners along Cottingham Street decried the plan as wholesale raze of the grown trees just south of their backyards.

The forested area, they said, acts as a physical screen between their homes, the CP Rail tracks and the hydro towers.

After meeting with residents in early May, Hydro One has now agreed to follow a three-year tree maintenance cycle, rather than the standard six-year time frame. By maintaining the trees more frequently there’s less pressure to cut them down.

Cottingham Street resident John Hiscox said the alternative plan is more sensitive to an urban, more densely populated neighbourhood like Summerhill.

“A few months ago they were taking an all-or-none approach to this without significant consultation with the broader community,” he said. “Now that they’ve decided to come up with a more moderate approach.”

Also taken off the chopping block are 31 Norway Maples that line the southern side of Robertson Davies Park. Instead, they will be pruned.

Hiscox, who acted as a representative for his neighbours after a working group was struck, says it’s understood some chopping is necessary to ensure trees don’t infringe on power lines.

“We agreed that they should be able to remove some of the trees in that area that are up at the railway level,” said Hiscox, referring to other tree clusters in Robertson Davies Park.

Hydro One spokesperson Denise Jamal said in an email the utility and community will conduct a walkabout in the near future to identify trees that can be maintained with pruning and those where removal is necessary.

“As a result of the work, we’ll be planting double the number of trees than we’ll be removing to replenish the urban forest,” Jamal said.

About this article:

By: Karolyn Coorsh
Posted: Jun 15 2012 2:09 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto