The Centretown Citizens Community Association is trying to save four thornless honey locust trees during the construction of a new condominium.
Jason Chen, Centretown News
Community activists are appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board to help protect these honey locust trees on Nepean Street.
Claridge Homes plans to build a 27-storey, 199-unit condominium tower at 96 Nepean St., the location of some of the trees.
Last August, the CCCA filed an appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board opposing the city’s decision to construct a building whose size exceeds the tall-building guidelines.
One of the appeal’s objectives is to save the honey locust trees. The association is concerned that the construction will have a negative impact on the trees’ health and affect their root system.
The trees are about nine metres tall and are 30 years old. According to Bonnie Mabee, chair of the CCCA trees and greenspace committee, the trees still haven’t reached full maturity.
The Ottawa homebuilder plans to keep four out of the six trees and replace the trees that are removed after construction.
Last August, the city approved a zoning change from three metres to one. This means that buildings can now be constructed only one metre from the sidewalk.
Rob Dekker, co-chair of the planning and development for the CCCA, says the current zoning area is too close to the trees.
“There is not enough space to let these trees live and survive during the construction,” says Dekker.
The CCCA wants to have the zoning requirements amended to allow three to four meters of space. According to Dekker, this will give sufficient sunlight and space for the trees.
“We are very concerned about their protection during construction,” adds Mabee. “These trees have a shallow, wide spreading of roots that need to be protected.”
According to Mabee, the trees need to be protected up to their drip line, the diameter around the tree where water drips down from the outer most branches. “Once you impact the roots, there may be some concerns about the life of the tree.”
Daniel Earns, certified arborist and co-owner of Bowthorpe Tree Services in Ottawa, says the honey locust tree is a good choice for urban areas. If construction were to go ahead, a “drip line barrier is strongly recommended.”
“If construction were to happen as planned, the roots of the trees could be severed and you will see a dieback directionally on that part of the plant,” says Earns. Increasing the setback would reduce damage to the root systems and provide more water capacity and nutrients for the trees.
Mabee says the 96 Nepean St. development is only a small part of a broader issue in Centretown.
“We’re losing what few trees we do have, and these developments limit the potential for new ones, which is a huge concern,” says Mabee. “We already have the least amount of greenspace in any area in Ottawa.”
Dekker says the OMB will hear the appeal this month.