Toronto Gets Nod To Buy Property To Preserve 250-Year-Old Heritage Tree

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Artist’s rendering of the planned parkette at 76 Coral Gable Drive. Pic: City of Toronto.

TORONTO: The City of Toronto has been given the green light on the purchase of 76 Coral Gable Dr. to preserve a 250-yearold, red oak, heritage tree on private property at this site.

The City has a signed agreement with the landowners to purchase the property site, however the current owners were looking to be released from that contract.

At a judicial hearing on October 14, the Honourable Susan Vella issued an oral decision in favour of the City proceeding with this land purchase on or before December 1, 2021.

A written decision may follow, if necessary. Justice Vella’s decision is that the court will issue a vesting order granting title to the City on December 1, 2021 provided the City pays the court the agreed purchase price of $780,000 less certain deductions.

Justice Vella also ordered costs of $7,500 against the homeowners, payable to the City within 30 days or deductible from the purchase price if not paid by then.

In her reasoning, Justice Vella noted that the 250-year-old tree, in the backyard of this property, has been recognized as a heritage tree under Forests Ontario’s Heritage Tree Program. She determined that there is a public benefit being created through the transaction to view and enjoy this tree and ensure its preservation by converting the property into a public park.

The City said it was pleased to have partnered with the community, which has donated more than $400,000 to date towards the purchase of this site to preserve this oak tree and enhance a new parkette when built.

From conversations with corporate Canada to a young resident selling handmade bracelets, the fundraising campaign garnered international media attention and contributions from more than 1,500 donors.

In September, 2019, Heritage Toronto unveiled a commemorative plaque, which captures this great oak’s place in our natural heritage as follows: “The large red oak (Quercus rubra) situated in the backyard of 76 Coral Gable Drive is more than 250 years old, making it one of the oldest in the city.

“Before Europeans colonized this area, the Humber River branch of the Toronto Carrying Place trail system  passed nearby. The tree was part of its delicate savannah ecosystem. This network of trails and portages was used by Indigenous peoples to travel between Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario and to trade throughout what is now Southern Ontario and beyond.

“The tree survived European settlement despite logging along the Humber River, clearance of the land for agriculture, and the development of this suburban neighbourhood in the early 1960s. The Coral Gable Drive red oak is a remarkable specimen of its species and in 2009, Forests Ontario recognized it as a heritage tree.”

Learn more about the heritage tree at www.toronto.ca/redoak. City Council approved the purchase of the site at a November 2020 Council meeting. Once the City takes ownership of the site, next steps include:

• Demolition of the house, site restoration, finalization of a park plan, construction and park opening and *A variety of public consultation and information activities throughout the design and construction phases of the park

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