Family’s quick action saves OOE trees

Brothers Daxton Rhead and Tom Deadman are dwarfed by the centuries-old sugar maple tree that looms over the Rhead/Deadman property backyard on the border of the Greystone Village development and Springhurst Park. The boys’ father, Richard Deadman, spearheaded the Save Our Trees campaign that succeeded in halting planned destruction of the sugar maples during the ongoing development of the Greystone Village lands.

Brothers Daxton Rhead and Tom Deadman are dwarfed by the centuries-old sugar maple tree that
looms over the Rhead/Deadman property backyard on the border of the Greystone Village development and Springhurst Park. The boys’ father, Richard Deadman, spearheaded the Save Our Trees campaign that succeeded in halting planned destruction of the sugar maples during the ongoing development of the Greystone Village lands.

JENNIFER HUMPHRIES

In early August, an Old Ottawa East family’s concern over the fate of two century-old sugar maples hit the media. The issue: Regional Group, builders of the 916-home Greystone Village complex on 26 acres formerly owned by the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate religious order, had determined that these two stalwarts had to come down. Many other trees on the property had been felled already, but Regional had earlier committed to the neighbours that they would preserve these two trees.

Richard Deadman and his family, whose property adjoins the Greystone site, spoke out. Supporters from the neighbourhood and across the city, including Council candidates Christine McAllister and Shawn Menard, joined with them in raising the issue to the broader community and to the Mayor and to Councillor David Chernushenko.

Admittedly, boundary trees have often posed a challenge for property owners on both sides of the fence. Legal and arborist interpretations vary. But two things are certain: Ottawa needs mature trees like these native maples, and the developer had earlier told the community they could and would remain.

“I feel like it’s a David and Goliath scenario,” Richard Deadman told me. “Regional assured us that the trees would stay. But then a sign went up stating that a tree removal permit was being requested. Although we had spoken with Regional staff and thought we had a good relationship, we got no advance notice about this and had no idea why or when they had switched their decision.”

Also frustrating was the sluggish response time to obtain documentation about the Regional application from the City. “We never did get all the documents,” said Deadman. “After pressing, we finally got the legal opinion letter that Regional submitted, but not the other material such as any arborist report.”

“My family and I decided to stand up to this,” he said. “We’ve seen it over and over. Something has to change.”

A tweet from Mayor Jim Watson seems to have ended the dispute in favour of the trees: “I have directed staff not to issue any permits to take down those two trees. The developer will have to find a way to keep the trees and live up to their original promise to the community.”

However, as reported by CBC, “Regional Group agreed to stall its application until September 30, while it investigated how the trees might be preserved, according to Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko.”

Chernushenko was able to announce a happy conclusion to this matter on September 25th indicating that a plan to save the trees had been agreed to by Regional and by the city. “In essence, Regional will be raising the height of the roadway and associated townhomes slightly in order to avoid the critical root zone,” he wrote in an email to OOE residents.

Jennifer Humphries is co-chair of the Glebe Community Association’s Environment Committee. You can contact her at  environment@glebeca.ca.  Her article was first published in the October issue of the Glebe Report and appears in the Mainstreeter with her permission.

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