City of Ottawa Sacrifices One of City’s Oldest Trees for Terry Fox Extension
OTTAWA -- A Black Sugar Maple that was more than 200 years old has been felled to make way for the extension of Terry Fox Drive in Kanata. The maple was cut along with a stand of tall White Pine (100 feet) and other mature healthy Black Maples.
“That tree was as old as Confederation. It was on the edge of the roadway, in perfect health, and the City could have easily retained it,” says Paul Renaud, part of a coalition of citizens concerned about the impact of the new road. “This is one more example of the City’s reckless disregard for the significant natural features of the area.”
Coalition members have studied the project and uncovered a long chain of questionable decisions and misleading reports in its planning and approval. They say the City has failed to heed the results of public consultations which clearly identified ecological concerns as the top criteria for choosing the route of the new road.
“The province has identified the South March forests and wetlands as an area of significance on a par with Algonquin Park or the Niagara Escarpment. This project is unacceptable and it will do nothing to solve Kanata’s transportation woes,” says John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. “The ecological value of the area has been blatantly disregarded and the City has found every loophole possible to bulldoze this road through,” he adds.
“This isn’t about a single ancient maple tree,” Bennett emphasizes. “But the maple is a symbol of all that is wrong with this project.”
The Black Sugar Maple is very uncommon in Ontario. This particular tree was identified in a 1992 City-sponsored study as a significant feature of the South March lands. Upon discovering the tree stump on Sunday, April 18th, botanist Martha Webber verified the age of the tree to be well over 200 years and confirmed that it was perfectly healthy prior to being destroyed. For it to reach this age it had to survive the great forest fire of 1870 that devastated the Ottawa Valley.
Renaud and others had noticed the tree before it was killed and brought it to the attention of City staff and Councilor Marianne Wilkinson. The tree had been marked for protection and Wilkinson had asked staff to try and retain it. The tree’s diameter was 109 centimeters. The city has a bylaw to protect trees with a diameter greater than 50 centimeters, but the City is exempt from the bylaw.
Old trees are important for their heritage significance and their bio-diversity. Ancient trees include disease-resistant chromosomes that play a critical role in protecting the local eco-system.
Paul Renaud John Bennett, Executive Director
613-277-5898 Sierra Club Canada
NOTE: Paul can provide photos of the remains of the tree.