The City of Guelph has a tree removal and preservation policy. This came into place in August 2010. You can read it HERE.
My issue as of late, with what’s to occur on the Lafarge lands, is one of misinformation. I’ve heard comments and allegations of “council approving clear cutting”. Of “developers always getting their way”. Of “no tree preservation or replanting being done.”
These allegations are not true.
I’m here to tell you the facts as I know them, as was told to council. And, to tell you my opinions on the matter moving forward.
Here is what was told to council:
The property owner, Silvercreek Guelph Developments Ltd., plans to remove 1,950 trees to ready the site for development. City staff continues to work closely with the property owner on this tree removal application. Activity will start on site within the coming days and the trees will be removed over the next several weeks.
Although the appropriate permitting process is being followed and compensation for the tree removal will be received by the City, the surrounding community currently uses this private property daily for recreation, including dog walking and hiking. The removal of the trees and closure of the site are expected to be poorly received.
Staff will also be sharing this information online and through social media with the community and residents in the immediate neighbourhood (between Paisley Rd, Alma St S and Waterloo Ave) and all others within 120m of the site will also being receiving a notice in the mail. The notice to area residents is also attached for your information.
• The property owner of the former LaFarge land has applied for a City permit to remove the majority of the trees on their site this summer.
• The City is working with the property owner to ensure the natural heritage features including Howitt Creek are protected during tree removal.
• The large bur oak on the property is being protected and will not be removed.
• As part of the City’s standard process when permitting tree removal, compensation is required to plant new trees within Guelph to offset the loss.
• For public safety, the City reminds the public to stay off this private property.
Questions and Answers:
Why are trees being removed from the site?
The property owner will start removing the trees this summer to get the site into a development ready state. No specific development proposal or site plan application has been received by the City.
What will be done to provide compensation for the trees being removed?
Cash in lieu will be provided to plant trees in other areas of Guelph and more than 3400 future tree and shrub plantings will be done on site when development is complete, including potential enhancement of natural areas along Howitt Creek. More than 2800 plantings were also provided previously by the applicant in anticipation of the tree removals on site.
Does the Tree By-law apply to the property? Has an application to cut/remove trees been submitted to the City?
The City’s tree bylaw applies to the property because it’s larger than 0.2 hectares. City staff has received an application to remove trees on the site and are in the process of issuing the permit now.
What is the current zoning on the site?
The property is zoned for a mix of commercial, high density residential and employment lands.
The media release stated THIS. Please read it.
My opinion and My Commitment to You:
I am greatly concerned that there will be zero development for an extended period of time on any site that has such tree removal.
It reminds me of the development near my house at the corner of Paisley and Elmira Rd.
Everyone knew the “forest” on that parcel of land was owned by a developer and was private property. Everyone knew eventually that development would take place. Yet one day it was just clear cut. Gone.
I kept thinking to myself that if I lived in the subdivision behind that “forest” that I’d be truly disappointed, but I’d also know that it would be temporary. That a development was just around the corner!
But the reality was that it did sit empty for years. There was nothing around the corner. When I became the city councillor for that area shortly after I fielded many calls around “when is development happening?” Or “the wind is picking up so much dust of the land now I can’t open my windows in my house anymore!” Or “the amount of waste and litter that is blowing across the land now is ending up in my yard!” – You get my point.
There’s now development happening with large high rise buildings, but there was several years of nothing.
So it begs the question, “Why?” “Why cut all the trees down and then not do a thing on the land for years?”
There very well could be an application or development proposal coming forward soon from the owner of the Lafarge Lands, and I hope there is. But if it sits with nothing for years – that bothers me.
Staff are implementing the tree by-law that is currently in place. The City’s tree by-law does not require that removals have to happen at the time of making an application to build or as part of a site plan.
Myself and Council need to look at these type of policies to see if they need to change or be updated to address such concerns as I and others have raised. I am committed to doing exactly that.
In the meantime the events to take place at the Lafarge Lands will be taking place. We can all be somewhat thankful that the owner of the land allowed the public to use it freely for years when they didn’t have to. It could have been fenced off to us all.
So instead, let us all – politicians, city staff, the development community and of course the citizens of this great city engage and focus on what we can do moving forward. We’re Guelph, we’ll figure it out.
Thanks for reading and have a great night!