Tree removal investigation launched
Resident claims developer Shane Baghai removed her trees without her consent
“You think they care about me, the small person, here? They don’t.”
A seven-floor residential condo building and two-level underground parking garage by developer Shane Baghai is currently in the excavation stage of construction at 3–5 Southvale Ave. However, Francis Ekonomou, who lives right next to the property, is accusing the developer of cutting down her boundary trees without notifying her.
Although permits were issued to take down the trees, she said, rather than asking her for her permission, they cut the roots.
“I never gave them my permission so they destabilized them,” she said. “[City of Toronto] Forestry took them down because they were going to come down on my house.”
The first three trees came down in late July and on Aug. 20, Ekonomou received a call from Urban Forestry notifying her that the remaining three trees would be taken down. However, she said that she was never contacted by the developer directly, and an agreement was never reached. “I should have been reimbursed for those trees,” she said. “They were more mine than they were his.”
Local councillor Jon Burnside said the developer would be responsible for replanting a total of seven trees.
“There were a number of trees that staff didn’t think they could survive because they were on the border of the two properties,” said Burnside. “The trees, at this point, are now a civil matter.” According to Jane Arbour, a representative from the City of Toronto’s Urban Forestry department, permits were issued to remove the six black locust trees along the boundary line after staff found the trees to be in poor health. However, there is an active tree bylaw contravention investigation at the site currently.
“Staff completed the Boundary and Neighbour Tree Notification process, as required by the Private Tree bylaw, prior to issuing the permits,” she wrote in a statement. “This notification advises that the issuance of a permit does not supersede property rights, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to resolve ownership issues prior to undertaking the work included in the permit.”
Ekonomou has lost faith that the developer next door will behave in a neighbourly fashion.
“You think they’re going to care about me, the small person, here?” she said. “They don’t. They care for their development to proceed, so they can start selling their units at $2 million apiece.”
Francis Ekonomou, the direct neighbour to a new development site