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Forestry department opting to uphold by-law

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

It appears  that the City of Ottawa is acting to inflict penalties on a property-owner responsible for damaging a 90-year-old black walnut tree in Champlain Park.

In early October, damage to the tree’s root system was so extensive that the tree had to be cut by a different property owner, on whose land it actually sat. The tree grew close to the boundary between two properties.

The City’s Forestry Department has begun a process that could result in strong financial penalties under auspices of the Urban Tree Conservation By-law (2009), which prohibits the destruction or damage of distinctive trees (any species 50 cm or more in diameter at breast height) on private property. Fines specified in the by-law range from $500 to $100,000.

A source within the Forestry Department stated in an email to municipal politicians and community leaders that By-law Services issued a summons to a property owner in Champlain Park earlier this month.

We are trying to determine what court will hear the case and when the hearing is likely to occur.

Boundary trees are especially vulnerable to damage during construction because the steps that builders and developers take to protect them are frequently inadequate. Damage to root systems may take years to translate into the death of a mature, healthy tree. Damage to the crown when a second storey or a rooftop structure is being built may be more readily apparent but passed off as inconsequential. The effects of both types of damage can be lethal to a tree over time.

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