Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the City of Ottawa reviewed its operations to see what activities it might drop, delay, or adjust to allow it to respond to new priorities and realities. As reported in the article, “Cutting down distinctive trees in Sandy Hill brings issues to the fore,” in the October-November 2019 IMAGE, work was underway on a Tree Bylaw Review. This was one of the first items for work under the Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) which had been approved by City Council in June 2017.
According to pre-pandemic plans, the Tree Bylaw implementation was expected in May 2020 with new criteria for distinctive trees warranting special protections to take effect in January 2021. A staff report suggested pushing back these deadlines, with the new criteria for distinctive trees taking effect in January 2022. At the Environment Committee in June however, Centertown Councillor Catherine McKenney put forward a motion to accelerate the tree protection bylaw review. On June 24, 2020, City Council adopted the motion: “to amend the new Tree Protection Bylaw to come into force and take effect on January 1, 2021 and to reduce the size of a Distinctive Tree from 50 centimeters to 30 centimeters in diameter …”
In the April-May 2020 edition of IMAGE, under the heading “Cumberland St. to receive new trees and shrubs” it was reported that work on the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSST) project would be completed soon on Cumberland along with nearby plantings. An up-date in early September said that substantial changes to the previously approved reinstatement plans resulted in contract delays and a pause in work. A recommencement of work on the sidewalks and cycle-tracks was expected soon, with installation of various plants later this fall, including maple and elm trees along Stewart Street.
After many months of construction along Mann Avenue between Chapel Street and Range Road, which included the removal of trees on the south side as well as planters with trees on the north side, work is close to completion except for new plantings. On September 4, 2020, there was an on-site meeting with people involved with the construction and landscaping, Councillor Mathieu Fleury, ASH President Susan Young and others. Due to the number of buried and overhead utilities, tree planting on the north side was deemed not feasible. Options were discussed, such as raised beds for shrubs and other plants, benches, bike racks and garbage bins. A variety of trees and other plants were proposed for the south side of Mann as well as along the sides of the strip mall. It was agreed that updated landscaping plans would be prepared by the end of September 2020 for consultation with interested people and groups. Installation of trees and other plants would be in spring 2021. Thus, people should be able to comment on the new plans now and next year see a variety of new trees and other plants to enhance the area.