It was a bad week for trees in Ottawa as the city was victim to two incidents of old trees being sacrificed for development. On Thursday, residents of Rodney Crescent in Alta Vista witnessed 50-year-old trees being abused and limbs being cut off in order to move a bungalow off a private residence. Rodney Crescent is a lovely little street, and some residents weren’t too happy about the actions of the house movers:
Margaret Buist, 55, who lives across the street, was concerned about the project and said she previously asked the city to send an arborist to monitor the move, but the first signs of trouble came around 12:30 p.m. as workers manoeuvred the truck carrying the home down the narrow street.
“It’s a beautiful, quiet, green neighbourhood with old mature trees and these neighbourhoods are rarer and rarer in the city,” she said, adding that many of the trees were planted in the 1950s when the subdivision was built.
When a city arborist arrived on scene shortly before 1:15 p.m., one of his first comments was that the situation seemed very unprofessional. His supervisor, who arrived on scene shortly after, refused to comment.
The Citizen‘s Andrew Nguyen tweeted a photo of the some of the wreckage:
This is what's left of one of the city's roughly 50-year-old trees after a home was moved earlier today: pic.twitter.com/aKb3QTwlwi
— Andrew Nguyen (@onlyandrewn) June 20, 2014
Sadly, the owner of the property had good intentions; he is building a new home on the lot and didn’t want the old bungalow to become landfill, so he sold it. It is unfortunate that his attempt at conservation had some opposite effects. It also seems as though the moving company was less than honest with him about the process.
In a much more nefarious situation, Metcalfe Realty surreptitiously destroyed an old forest in Kanata. The forest was scheduled to be assessed for heritage status, but in a clear move to skirt the law, Metcalfe had their henchmen clearcut the middle of the forest, leaving tree cover at the property’s edge so as not to be detected. Neighbours heard the noise, but city officials could not respond in time to stop the destruction.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a developer destroy forests in an attempt to force development. It’s a clear it’s easier to seek forgiveness (or pay a token fine) than ask permission. Metcalfe can be fined up to $100,000 for their transgression, but that’s merely the cost of doing business. If it allows them to build a shiny new development, it’ll be worth it.
Clearly, the maximum fine isn’t enough. Perhaps a maximum fine of $100,000 per tree would be better. We should probably also repossess the land, whether it’s granted heritage status or not. Metcalfe clearly can’t be trusted.