Update – Trees at 103 and 108 Bayview Ridge

Community News |  

Dear Friends and Neighbours,

As you know, I was devastated earlier this summer when a developer clear cut trees at 103 and 108 Bayview Ridge. At that time, I urged the Mayor and the General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation to hold the developer accountable for their reprehensible actions.

I’m writing to let you know that the Urban Forestry division has finally completed the first phase of its investigation of the illegal tree removals at 103 and 108 Bayview Ridge.

Urban Forestry has confirmed that 40 trees were removed without permits. Of these, 23 were city-owned trees and 17 were private trees. This is one of the most significant violations of the Tree Bylaws to date.

The first phase of staff’s investigation focuses on canopy remediation, which requires the developer to pay fees to remediate the impact of its violation on the tree canopy. To date, the developer has paid $155,064 in fees to the City of Toronto:
·         Inspection fees of $26,292;
·         $12,172, representing the value of the removed street trees; and,
·         A replanting deposit of $116,600 (calculated at $583 for each of the 200 trees to be replanted according to the 5:1 ratio outlined in the Tree Bylaws).

The second phase of the investigation will involve prosecution at the Ontario Court of Justice. Staff have advised that violations are subject to a fine of up to $100,000 per tree and an additional special fine of up to $100,000 per tree. This phase of the investigation can take 18 months or longer to complete. If you have further questions or would like to know more about the investigation process, please contact Arthur Beauregard, Manager of Tree Protection and Plan Review in Urban Forestry, at abeaureg@toronto.ca.

I am insistent that Urban Forestry continue to prosecute this case at the Ontario Court of Justice and seek the maximum fines and penalties.

I, like many of you, have also been frustrated by the length of this investigation and the lack of information and transparency about this process over the past few months.

For these reasons and based on your feedback, I moved a motion today at the Parks and Environment Committee directing city staff to improve the investigations process and strengthen enforcement of the Tree Bylaws. In particular, I’m asking staff to consider stiffer penalties for bylaw violations, including higher fines, stop work orders and the suspension of building permits. You can read my full motion here.

Ultimately, however, the city’s ability to protect trees during the development process is often hindered by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), the provincial body that hears planning appeals from the municipal level.  When an application is appealed to the OMB, it’s the province – not the city – that has final say over the application, including its impact on trees on-site. The OMB approved the application for 103 and 108 Bayview Ridge in 2015.

I’ve voted four times with City Council to remove Toronto from the jurisdiction of the OMB. Although the province has not yet acted on releasing Toronto from the OMB’s jurisdiction, they have recently launched a review of the Board’s scope and effectiveness. You can read more about the review here.

I strongly encourage you to participate in the review and share your feedback on the OMB with the province. You can submit your comments using the online web-form or by emailing OMBReview@ontario.ca and copying your local MPP.

Thank you again for your engagement on this important issue.

Warm regards,