Historic trees at Toronto's Osgoode Hall spared until Feb. 10 following interim injunction
Published Sunday, February 5, 2023 9:49AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 5, 2023 3:02PM EST
The historic trees on the chopping block at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto will live to see another day.
Ontario’s Superior Court has granted an interim injunction which restrains Metrolinx from cutting down the group of trees on the property to make way for an Ontario Line subway station, according to the Law Society of Ontario (LSO).
A spokesperson for the LSO said Justice William S. Chalmers made the decision which prevents the Crown agency from axing the trees until Feb. 10 at midnight, unless the order is further extended by the court.
“The Law Society of Ontario is pleased with the outcome of the proceedings. We extend our thanks to the Courts and community and look forward to next steps in the process,” Wynna Brown said in a statement issued Sunday.
The reasoning behind the decision is set to be released later this morning, Brown said.
Following yesterday’s hearing at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Justice Chalmers has granted the interim injunction restraining Metrolinx from cutting down any trees at the Osgoode site. 1/3— Law Society of Ontario (@LawSocietyLSO) February 5, 2023
Metrolinx began cutting down the historic trees on Saturday morning before the Ontario Superior Court could hear the injunction application launched to prevent their clearing.
Crews “temporarily paused” the work following pressure from protesters at the site, but Metrolinx said at the time it planned to continue following the results of the hearing.
In an updated statement issued Sunday, Metrolinx said it looks forward to “resolving this matter quickly.”
“Metrolinx has been engaging with communities on this project for over two years,” the statement read. “We met with the Law Society of Ontario 17 times prior to the start of work to avoid unnecessary delays that will cause significant financial consequences to taxpayers and commuters.”
The Build Ontario Line Differently (BOLD) Community Coalition, which has advocated against the clearing of trees at Osgoode Hall, welcomed Sunday’s update and said it looks forward to working with city councillors to find a transit solution that “meets everyone’s needs.”
However, the group went on to say that dozens of mature trees in nearby Moss Park were not so lucky.
“While the trees of Osgoode Hall are temporarily protected, just a stone’s throw away at Queen and Parliament at Moss Park 61 trees were wrongfully cut down,” BOLD said in a statement.
“Ordinary citizens, let alone City Hall or institutions like the Law Society, should not have to go to court to be heard. Metrolinx is a public agency. This is a wake-up call that Metrolinx’s so-called ‘public consultation’ lacks integrity and their behaviour is no longer trustworthy.”
The Osgoode site is one of 15 planned stops along the 15.6-kilometre stretch of the Ontario Line, which is set to run from Exhibition Place to the Ontario Science Centre.
Nine other areas in the area of Osgoode Hall were assessed as potential locations for the future station. However, a U.S.-based infrastructure engineering firm contracted by the city to carry out the assessment, found that Osgoode Hall appeared to be “the most suitable option.”
The trees, which are believed to be hundreds of years old, were first scheduled to be chopped down in December of last year, but that work was stopped in November following public backlash to the plan.
The Ontario Line is set to be completed in 2031.