Bedford Park resident and the case of the black walnut tree heads to community council next week


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A black walnut tree soars above the house at 38 Deloraine Ave. (Google)

A homeowner in the Bedford Park area says a black walnut tree has been at the root of her problems for more than a decade. 

Maria Krajewska moved into her Deloraine Avenue home in 2003, when the tree was approximately four storeys tall.

“I tried to do some landscaping … and everything was kind of dying out very quickly,” Krajewska said. “The next season I had to replace a lot of things I planted.”

Black walnut trees produce juglone, a natural substance that inhibits many types of plants from growing. But due to a bylaw that protects the city’s tree canopy, Krajewska hasn’t been able to remove her walnut tree. It is now 60 centimetres in diameter and has grown to around five storeys.

Palm-sized walnut fruits come crashing down from its branches when it’s in season, Krajewska said.

“I have grandchildren and they cannot use [my backyard],” she said. “I’m really annoyed by that so much. I can’t enjoy it anymore.”

She reached out to Ward 16 councillor Christin Carmichael Greb, collected dozens of her neighbour’s signatures for a petition supporting the tree’s removal and handed in her request for a permit. It was turned down by the North York Community Council in October.

A month later, it was reviewed by Toronto City Council, but Carmichael Greb referred it back to the community because she said she was waiting for a new report to come out about black walnut trees.

The report, expected to be released in February, will focus on how the trees contribute to the city’s urban forest and their effects on community safety. 

A 2008 study found that there were approximately 40,000 black walnut trees in Toronto, according to the City of Toronto’s urban forestry policy and project advisor Andrew Pickett.

“The majority of those are on private property, so that would be a tremendous loss to the urban forest [if they were removed],” Pickett said.

There have been about a half of a dozen requests to cut down black walnuts every year since 2004, he said.

“If we had an exception for certain species then that would impact our ability to grow the canopy,” he said. “Walnuts are long-lived, large growing trees. They provide a fairly extensive canopy coverage and they’re quite resistant to insect and disease problems.”

Even though Krajewska’s tree was deemed “healthy and maintainable” by the urban forestry department in a September 2016 report — Carmichael Greb said it’s still dangerous. 

“She doesn’t use her backyard for two months a year. It’s caused damage,” Carmichael Greb said. “She’s spent thousands of dollars trying to get things to grow around it and it’s a toxic tree.” 

Krajewska’s application is scheduled to be considered by North York Community Council again on Jan. 17.

 

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