Where Do Trees Fit into Your Plan?

A while ago I noticed a “For Sale” sign on an empty lot in the neighbourhood. It wasn’t long before it was labelled again with a “Sold” sign. I made a point of returning with my camera because I knew that it was only a matter of time before the chain saws would arrive to clear the lot for construction.

undeveloped lot, Inglewood Avenue

Unfortunately, it has been home to a stand of mature maples that I frequently admired on my walks in all seasons. Here’s what it looked like until recently. The home in the background gives some notion of the scale. The trees are gone now. It was inevitable because it is an empty  building lot in an established residential neighbourhood. Someone, some day, was bound to build there.

I guess I could be called a sentimental ‘tree-hugger’ because it always saddens me to see the loss of these giants. And there have been a few over the last 15 years. Like the owner who bought a home nearby, cut almost all the trees and milled them into lumber in his driveway, or the elderly man that bought a small home on a large well-treed lot and then cut all the towering trees because “there are too many leaves”.

In this, the UN International Year of Forests, I had hoped that the new owner’s building plans would allow a couple of the trees to remain. That was not the case.  The tree removal crew told me that future construction would have disturbed or damaged the root system too severely for any trees to survive anyway.  We seem to have a love-hate relationship with mature trees. They’re great, except on our property. As one of my neighbours observed – “Big tree, big problem”. It can cost several thousand dollars to have a diseased or damaged tree removed. With more violent weather becoming more common, people are nervous about fallen trees or branches and property damage.

Cleared lot, Inglewood Avenue

This is a photo, right, of the lot after cutting. Anyone who has seen the building preparations on the former golf course on Innisfil Beach Road knows that modern construction practice starts with a blank slate, literally. I’ve illustrated with a photo of subdivision construction below.

So I’m writing this because, as the Town prepares to review the Secondary Plans for Alcona North and South, I think its important for residents to pay close attention to what emerges.

Subdivision construction site – a blank slate

Inspiring Innisfil makes a lot of recommendations about creating trails and greenways, and better connections between neighbourhoods. The strategic direction is about developing tourism and recreational opportunities. I hope the secondary plans will begin with careful consideration of these objectives in deciding what natural areas should be preserved, what might be changed or improved and what can reasonably be made available for development.

Published earlier: Volunteers Sought for Alcona Secondary Plans