Tree re­moval in­ves­ti­ga­tion launched

Res­i­dent claims de­vel­oper Shane Baghai re­moved her trees with­out her con­sent

North Toronto Post - - News - By Jes­sica Wei

“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

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