Published on March 13, 2017 | by Aastha Shetty     Photography by pixabay.com


Residents frustrated nuisance tree here to stay

The City of Toronto has decided to stay firm on the protection for black walnut trees despite the number of complaints from residents who have said that the tree has caused damage to their properties.

This is in response to a request filed on behalf of troubled residents by Ward 13 Coun. Sarah Doucette. Doucette had asked Forestry staff to look into the effects of exempting the black walnut tree from the city’s tree bylaw. The current bylaw preserves the black walnut tree, a native species, from being cut down or damaged.

In her request to the parks and environment committee, Doucette wrote, “the size of the nut, the height of the tree, and the resin it produces have all been raised as concerns from the general public.”

But the fate of the black walnut is anything but black-and-white.

Toronto resident and activist Steve Loretta said that if the black walnut tree is delisted from the city’s tree bylaw, “the Pandora’s box will certainly be opened and other trees will be targeted because they are a nuisance for certain individuals,” he said, referring to a magical box from Greek mythology that was thought to contain all the evils of the world within it.

Another Toronto resident, Maria Miolo, agreed, “we should also exempt apple trees… pear trees… and the trees in my neighborhood that make leaves, which cause a tripping hazard and make a mess in my driveway, lawn, patio, and city streets.”

She added, “I hope I made my point. Exemptions due to absurd excuses should not be tolerated.”

Director of urban forestry, Jason Doyle, said that there are alternatives to cutting the tree, such as planting native species that are immune to the toxin produced by the tree called juglone that prevents some other species from growing.

Doyle also suggests that concerned residents should consider cheaper alternatives to cutting the black walnut trees on their property, such as picking up fallen walnuts and avoiding the over-pruning of trees, which causes them to produce more fruit.

Doyle said that residents who apply for permission to remove a black walnut tree will be provided with a full list of alternatives that are “simpler and less expensive than tree removal.”

Currently, cutting down a black walnut tree without permission from the City can result in a $500-$100,000 fine per tree, even if it is on private property.

The application for permission to cut or injure a tree on your property can be found here.

An official report regarding the consequences of exempting the black walnut tree from the existing tree bylaw can be found here.

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About the Author

is a student journalist and she would like to work for the big leagues one day. Sometimes she writes poems, experiments with graphic design or polishes her photography skills. Sometimes she says "f@$% it!!" and watches 12 hours of Dr. Phil reruns on YouTube.

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