City plans to install sidewalks along Chine Drive in Scarborough are on hold thanks to community opposition. Installing the sidewalks would mean cutting a line of century-old trees on the street, which has historical ties to the Group of Seven.

City and residents battle over plan to trim trees on Chine Drive

The fate of a line of century-old trees, the city has voted to cut down on Chine Drive in Scarborough, remains on hold.

City plans along Chine Drive, where members of the Group of Seven artists met at one time, have called for the installation of sidewalks. And with a school located at the end of the street, city officials worry about the safety of travelling students beneath such elderly trees. However, residents have protested the proposed cutting of the old-growth trees. Many have signed a petition (with up to 99 per cent participation) to save the trees.

Steve Goldberger, a resident of Chine Drive for over 25 years, believes that the removal of the trees would destroy the main attraction for living on the street.

“They don’t take into consideration all the other factors related to the street and why it should not fit into their cookie-cutter idea of what a typical city street should be,” Goldberger said. “This is a country lane and should stay that way.”

Toronto Coun. Gary Crawford (Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest) said the street was already scheduled for road reconstruction, as the quality of the roadway has deteriorated significantly over the years.

“It is a city policy to look at the feasibility of installing of sidewalks during any road reconstruction,” he said. “During the Environmental Assessment public consultation process, the issue of safety was identified as a concern due to the public school at the bottom of Chine Drive.”

Although the sidewalk installation was scheduled for next spring, community Goldberger expects a review of the plan will change the city’s decision.

“We have appealed the Environmental Assessment with the minister of the environment and they are assessing the situation,” Goldberger said. “This has delayed the project until further notice.”

Despite the outcry against cutting down the trees, Coun. Crawford believes the plan is environmentally sound.

“City Council will vote on the final plans for the project,” he said. “These plans will meet guidelines set out by the Ministry of the Environment.”