August 21, 2014

Replanting of removed trees begins on DDO site

After illegally felling trees on the David Dunlap Observatory lands, the site’s owners have planted 100 new ones to satisfy a court order.

In April, Metrus Development pleaded guilty to cutting down 17 trees on the site. A Richmond Hill bylaw prohibits felling trees with a trunk 20 centimetres or greater in diameter.

The court ordered Metrus to replant six trees for every one the town prosecuted them for. But Marianne Yake, president of the Richmond Hill Naturalists, believes the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

“To me, it is a failure of the system itself and a failure of recognition of how important trees are in an urban environment,” she said.

Metrus Developments felled the trees while conducting an archaeological study to determine the state of the land. Martin Volhard, a Richmond Hill park planner, said the study required turning the soil between the trees — not cutting them down.

“They claimed that they were unable to understand the implications of what they were doing in terms of the tree bylaw, so they bulldozed the trees to undertake the plan,” he said.

Michael Pozzebon, project manager for Metrus Development, said the company didn’t realize it needed approval to cut the trees, but thinks their solution will ultimately benefit the community.

“All of those homeowners along the southern edge will have a planted tree area rather than the other product types we have. For us, it’s a good solution,” he said. Metrus will continue with plans to develop the site. Volhard said the submitted application will include a tree inventory and environmental study.