In her quest to save several old majestic oak trees on land slated for a condominium development at Bloor Street West and Oakmount Road, nearby resident Anila Sunnak gathered more than 800 names for an online petition.
Parkdale-High Park Councillor Sarah Doucette presented the electronic petition to Toronto City Council at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 20.
The petition calls on the city and the developer, The Daniels Corporation, to “stop cutting oaks in High Park eco-buffer zone.”
“The protocol is, the petition gets handed in, but no one can speak to it,” said Doucette.
The petition garnered 801 names, however, 159 of those came from outside of Toronto, including as far away as the Netherlands, the US and the UK.
“I don’t think they really count,” said the councillor.
The remainder came from Toronto residents, however, presenting the petition “was all I could do,” admitted Doucette.
Will it likely have an impact on saving the beloved trees?
“Not at this late date,” revealed Doucette. “The development has already been approved by the (Ontario Municipal Board) and the city.”
Perhaps if the petition had been circulated during the period of public consultation hosted by the city and the developer, it would have had more of an effect, she said.
To make room for the proposed 14-storey, 378-unit residential and retail complex, the site that encompasses 1844 to 1854 Bloor St. W., 34 and 37 Pacific Ave. and 6 to 14 and part of 18 and 18A Oakmount Rd., has to be cleared. The long-abandoned houses were torn down. The trees remain standing at this point.
They are not part of the nationally rare oak savannah that can be found in High Park, according to Daniels’ senior manager of development Neil Pattison.
Approximately one third of High Park’s natural environment is comprised of the rare oak savannah, an open, park-like landscape that includes widely spaced black oaks, scattered low shrubs and a variety of prairie grasses and wildflowers, according to the High Park Natural Environment Committee.
The city will allow trees to be cut down for a good development. The city is in a difficult position – it wants to protect trees, but developers have rights,” said Doucette. “You have to be logical here. You can’t go with your heart all of the time.”