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Another threat to the Champlain Oaks

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

This year the City of Ottawa sought to improve the compatibility of redevelopment through amendments to bylaws as part of new infill guidelines. These are intended, in part, to ensure that negotiations and approvals for Tree Permits to destroy or harm Distinctive Trees take place BEFORE other bodies consider approvals that impact on trees.

On September 5 the Committee of Adjustment (Panel 1) will consider an application for a Minor Variance for front yard set-back from required 4.99 metres to 4.5 metres. A professional foresters’ report commissioned by residents in the area indicates that the variance, if approved, poses an additional risk to the four distinctive Bur Oaks at the front of the property which currently are landmarks on the street. Mature front yard trees are characteristic of this neighbourhood and the Bur Oaks are of particular importance due to their Heritage character. Respecting or increasing the current set-back is necessary to enhance their protection and the resulting compatibility of the proposed redevelopment.

Three community associations in this area, including the Champlain Park Community Association, the Westboro Beach Community Association, and the Island Park Community Association, are currently in discussions with the City of Ottawa and Councillor Hobbs regarding a proposal to recognize the heritage value of these and other Bur Oaks in Champlain Park. The basis for the proposal, which is to list selected Bur Oaks in the Heritage Registry of the City of Ottawa (including the four trees at 179 Carleton), is that they represent the original forest canopy along this section of the Ottawa River. The four trees at 179 Carleton pre-date residential development on this street by many decades. Their conservation by previous Owners establishes a de facto link to historical references to the Bur Oaks dating back to the 1600s and the naming of the Deschênes Rapids (oak rapids).

These trees must be actively protected by rejecting the Minor Variance to the front yard set-back. A pre-cautionary approach to this aspect of the consent application is further supported by Section 10 of the Provincial Forestry Act concerning Boundary Trees (the trees straddle the property line, and are consequently common property with the neighbour) and the Urban Tree Conservation Bylaw concerning Distinctive trees on private property.

To take action, contact your city Councillor, and the City of Ottawa. --Daniel Buckles

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