Metrolinx will move ahead with plans to chop down historic trees on Osgoode Hall property, despite ongoing review
Published Tuesday, November 22, 2022 11:57AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 22, 2022 1:10PM EST
Metrolinx has given notice of its intent to cut down five historic trees on the grounds of Osgoode Hall after previously suggesting that it wouldn’t move forward with the clearing until the completion of an independent review.
The transit agency tells CP24 that the trees need to be removed in order to accommodate the upcoming archeological assessment of the property. That assessment is being conducted before work begins on a new Ontario Line station in the area.
The trees are located along an iron fence near Queen Street and University Avenue and are believed to be hundreds of years old.
Metrolinx says that a draft notice was recently shared with the Law Society of Ontario for "further discussion." That notice suggested that the removal of the trees would take place on Dec. 5, however Metrolinx says that date could change.
“Work plans for the area are still being confirmed and discussed with partners. Once they are confirmed, we will share them with the community,” a statement provided to CP24 notes. “Metrolinx continues to communicate extensively with the Law Society of Ontario as well as the local community. This includes a community meeting that we will be hosting in the coming weeks to provide updates on plans for the Ontario Line Osgoode Station.”
Metrolinx faced criticism this summer over its plans to tear up a portion of the grounds of Osgoode Hall, including from Mayor John Tory.
In a statement provided to CP24.com, Tory’s spokesperson Don Peat said that the mayor “has a mandate from voters to get transit built” but expects Metrolinx to be “respectful of the communities around” future transit projects.
He said that Tory met with Metrolinx about the Osgoode Hall site after raising concerns this summer and “will be following up again in the days ahead.”
“Before any trees are removed by Metrolinx, we want to see the City of Toronto’s independent review of the Osgoode Station site,” Peat said. “We would expect that report will be public and we further expect that Metrolinx will discuss all its plans publicly before any work is undertaken.”
The 15.6 kilometre Ontario Line will run from Exhibition Place in the west to the Ontario Science Centre in the east.
One of the 15 stations will be located underneath the corner of Osgoode Hall’s property near University Avenue and Queen Street West.
Speaking with reporters at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said that while he can appreciate the urgency to get transit built, Metrolinx has “an obligation to explore all possibilities" and should do "whatever is needed in reason to preserve those trees."
“It's my understanding that there's been alternative proposals put forward on how those trees can be protected by changing the design and placement of the particular transit stop,” he said.
The excavation work required to construct the Osgoode station is expected to begin in July and run until March, 2026. The city says that there will be a construction staging area set up within the Osgoode Hall property, though some temporary lane closures will still be necessary.