LRT will axe most street trees on route
Ninety per cent of 600 trees to be removed
Light rail transit construction will force the axing of most of the 600 street trees along the King-MainQueenston corridor.
The builder of the proposed $1billion LRT line will be asked to replace those trees wherever possible along the 14-kilometre route — but realistically, there will be “significantly fewer” street trees along the corridor once trains begin rolling, said Kris Jacobson, the city lead on the Metrolinx-managed project.
A project update going to councillors May 31 estimates an initial “90 per cent decrease” in trees currently maintained along parts of Main Street, King Street and Queenston Road.
That same report gives cheerier news about costs to the city from politically challenged project, including a cheaper estimate — $2 million, instead of almost $10 million previously suggested — for what it will cost the city along the line for services like clearing snow, collecting garbage and trimming trees.
Forestry costs will be a wash for
the project because trees lost along the route will be replaced, just not necessarily on the new transit line.
Jacobson said the winning bidder for the massive project will be encouraged to find “every available opportunity” to replace axed trees within the corridor. But where that’s not possible, he said the city will be compensated in an amount that allows replanting of the same number or — ideally — more trees near the transit corridor.
It won’t be clear how many can actually be replanted along the fledgling LRT line until the winning bidder submits design and construction plan documents, he said.
The city will also insist on strategic replanting and new green landscaping in pedestrian-focused areas like the International Village, where a “shared street” concept similar to Gore Park is envisioned. This would also include coloured concrete, urban braille and raised planting beds.
“But I think we have to be realistic about the fact that it will be a very tight corridor,” Jacobson said, pointing to challenging street widths and complicated, growing underground infrastructure. “We’re likely looking at significantly fewer (trees) within the actual corridor.”
Other visual changes aside from the loss of shady street trees would include the removal of current hanging planter baskets and most median flower beds, given the massive overhaul of the streetscape required for rail lines, the report says.
That includes the expected relocation of most street lights onto LRT catenary poles. Those poles, which carry the electrical wires needed to power LRT cars, are proposed to be black in colour and will normally be located in the centre of the street.
Some residents opposed to LRT have objected to the loss of trees – and vi—ual replacement by metal catenary towers – for a —roject billed as a cleaner, greener transportation mode.
If the project goes ahead, it will take time for replanted street trees to return to “canopy” size along the corridor. But project fans note the LRT will fill in as a carbonbuster while those trees grow up.
Metrolinx studies suggest the electricpowered LRT vehicles will eventually displace enough buses and cars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8,500 tonnes annually. That’s the carbon sequestration equivalent of planting 200,000 tree seedlings and letting them grow for a decade.
The last tree-related news flash for LRT included the revelation that potentially endangered butternut trees were found on the west-end site of the proposed maintenance and operating facility off of Frid Street.
A study found the trees should not be in too much danger as a result of construction, but Coun. Aidan Johnson moved a motion asking for extra efforts to preserve the butternuts.
Most street lights along the LRT route will be relocated onto catenary poles, like the ones pictured here from Waterloo. The poles, which carry the electrical wires needed to power LRT cars, are proposed to be black in colour and will normally be located in the centre of the street.