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Residents concerned about tree-cutting at Ramsden Park
About three new trees will be planted for each of the 20 slated to be axed during the revitalization.
Aug. 8, 2017

As the city enters its second phase of a $7-million revitalization project at Ramsden Park, one of the city’s largest urban parks, some Rosedale residents are rooting against a planned tree clearing.

A sign posted on a tree along the park trail urges visitors to contact Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam in protest of the plan to “kill trees” during renovations at the 14-acre park.

It is not clear who posted the signs.

Wong-Tam has addressed some of the concerns in a statement posted to her website, particularly for residents near Hillsboro Ave., on the park’s south side, who are critical of the tree-cutting to make way for an accessible staircase into the park.

“During the construction period, there’s no doubt about it, it will be disruptive and of course, people might feel like it’s rather dramatic,” Wong-Tam said.

“The conditions of those trees that were marked for removal are specifically chosen, and the pathways are designed specifically to try to minimize the impact to the healthy trees.”

The Hillsboro entrance is propped on a steep slope that has experienced significant soil erosion over the years, she said. During a community consultation and walk-about two years ago, one member of Wong-Tam’s group nearly fell down the slope as they navigated through the park.

“It just really highlighted how unsafe the current conditions are,” she said.

The Hillsboro ramp, staircase, and terrace will be closing starting on Sept. 5 as part of the second wave of construction.

About 20 trees will be axed for in this phase of the project, but three new ones will be planted in place of each lost tree.

The city hired an arborist who studied the condition of each tree in the park, and those making the final cut would have been removed eventually because they are either an invasive species, in ill health, or near the end of their life, Wong-Tam said.

The park was fitted with a resurfaced tennis court, an upgraded playground, splash pad, wading pool, two concrete ping-pong tables, and new pathway lighting as part of the first phase of construction.

Phase two will feature upgrades to the dog off-leash area, the Hillsboro staircase ramp and entryway, pathways, and landscaping.

Wong-Tam said she has received positive feedback from some of the completed work, namely the playground.

David Bluestein, the chairman of the Ramsden Park Dog Owners Association and Friends of Ramsden Park, said he isn’t satisfied with information updates to residents.

“There’s no willingness or intention to talk to the residents any further,” he said. “All the plans that come out now, we haven’t got a clue what they are.”

Bluestein also cited outstanding damage on the grass in the upper plateau, unrepaired sod around picnic tables south of the swimming pool, and the water-filled sandbox as some of his concerns with the project.

The work is expected to be completed by spring 2018.