If trees fall in the forest, OOE will hear them

Bartosz Nowak could once climb within the canopy of trees along Springhurst Avenue. Now he’s hoping the City will help the avenue once again reach its former beauty.

Bartosz Nowak could once climb within the canopy of trees along Springhurst Avenue. Now he’s hoping the City will help the avenue once again reach its former beauty.

Two years ago, a large number of mature trees died and were then removed from Springhurst Avenue between Brunswick Avenue and Chestnut Street. Neighbours took notice, but Bartosz Nowak took action. He started a conversation with the City’s Environmental Services department that spanned more than a year and delivered results this November.

By Bartosz Nowak

Before becoming a homeowner, I never really gave any conscious thoughts to the importance of trees. I grew up in Vancouver, so maybe I just took them for granted. Once we moved into Old Ottawa East, however, one of our very first investments into our new home was a magnolia tree for the front yard. It just seemed like the right thing to do. We thought streetscape was important, and what better way to create curb appeal than a beautiful tree.

Our conviction in the importance of trees grew stronger over the years. We came to see them more than just a lovely aesthetic feature that adds to the ambiance of the neighborhood, but as a symbol of completeness and belonging. Just like trees, we wanted to plant roots and grow in our new community.

It was a sad day when I came home from work to find all the ash trees cut down in Springhurst Park. I was struck with how empty and cold the streetscape appeared, and the importance of what was lost really hit home.

When the City of Ottawa decided to remove the ash trees along Brunswick Street, they planted some saplings years in advance to fill in the void. Unfortunately, this did not happen along Springhurst Avenue, and we were left with a bare patch of grass, with little to offer the neighbourhood’s residents.

So I began inquiring about the City’s plans for the removal of the stumps, replanting the trees, and an overall vision for the space. Some replanting took place during the winter of 2016, but several of the saplings died and were removed during the project to remediate the park’s soil. Where once we had a canopy of mature ash trees, we currently have only six young, albeit relatively healthy saplings lining the street.

After a lengthy back and forth with the City of Ottawa, four more trees were planted along the edges of the park space this month, and many more throughout Springhurst Park along Brunswick Lane. However, no trees will be planted within the interior of the park until the community decides how it intends to utilize the space–for example, whether to replace the benches and create pathways.

It will undoubtedly take many years for young trees to provide the same ambiance and shelter as those that were removed. In the meantime, they stand as a promise of future natural splendour and a reminder of how important trees are to the community.

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Filed in: Environment, FP, Front Page

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