metrolinx ontario line

Toronto community plans funeral for trees cut down for the Metrolinx Ontario Line

A Toronto neighbourhood feels so strongly about the loss of trees in a local park that they are planning a funeral to mourn them.

A group organized to Save Jimmie Simpson Park from the Metrolinx Ontario Line has held protests in the past, but this latest event marks a sad turn.

"Funeral for our beloved trees," reads a post on Facebook announcing the event. "Join us to celebrate the lives of the trees of our beloved rail corridor urban forest."

The post goes on to say the event will be on Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. in Jimmie Simpson Park, located on Queen Street East, east of Broadview. Guests are invited to wear black.

"Please dress in your funeral attire and join us near the playground fence in Jimmie Simpson Park," organizers say.

The community will mourn "the premature death of the Horse Chestnut trees along our rail corridor."

The trees are home to squirrels and blossom with spring flowers, which brought the bees to the community.

"If Metrolinx gets its way, these glorious trees will be cut down in their prime — in a matter of weeks — to build the rushed and ill-considered Ontario Line above ground," says the group.

In response to the protest, Metrolinx spokesperson Matt Llewellyn tells blogTO that Metrolinx is completing a tree inventory and arborist report to find out more about what kinds of trees are next to the rail corridor between Eastern Avenue and Pape Avenue, and how healthy they are.

"These studies will look at whether or not trees are invasive, diseased, or dead, and will help us determine our plans for protection or removal," Llewellyn says.

The transit agency expects to finalize the arborist report in early 2022.

Metrolinx does plan to remove trees, as they need to accommodate new electrification poles and wires for expanded GO services and new Ontario Line trains.

But, Llewellyn says: "for each tree we need to remove, we will work with owners to plant three new ones in its place."

On the suggestion that an underground line would work better, he says that Metrolinx has looked into this extensively and concluded that building this section of the Ontario Line within the existing rail corridor is the best solution as it's much less intrusive, expensive and time consuming than building underground in this area.

"Still, we understand some people in the community have concerns. We're listening to them, and we're doing everything we can to ensure they're addressed the best way possible, while still delivering this critically important project on-time and on-budget," he told blogTO.

Llewellyn also refutes the suggestion that the Metrolinx isn't doing environmental assessments for the Ontario Line — he says that they have finalized six environmental reports, and the Environmental Impact Assessment Report will follow in early 2022.

"No trees will be removed until this assessment and the related tree inventory and arborist report are consulted on and finalized," he said.

For those who love trees though, any cut is one too many.

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