Catastrophe for the catalpa?

July 8, 2017


Is Chapter 2 in the catalpa tale a catastrophe? Or is it an example of people doing the best they can to mitigate the hard realities of construction equipment on the roots and branches of a living tree? 


You decide whether the catalpa tree I wrote about on June 28 will survive the events of the last 7 days. 


Here's a summary of those events.


The diagram below shows root loss due to excavation on the east and north areas of the critical root zone


You may recall that the owner of the property erected a handmade sign saying "TREE PRESERVATION PROTECTED SPACE." He also displayed the City of Ottawa's notice describing the catalpa as a protected tree.


The tree is on private property, not the city's right-of-way. The owner did not ask for a permit to destroy the tree because his intention was to preserve it. However, under the new rules laid out by the city for trees more than 50 cm in diameter on private property, he will have paid the city's $700 refundable tree planning deposit.


This $700 fee applies to the entire property, not just to the catalpa tree. The city's pamphlet on this topic says the $700 "will be collected at building permit issuance to ensure that trees lost to development are replaced." The city coffers will be enhanced by $700 because I'm pretty sure that, eventually, municipal officials will decide that this catalpa was "lost to development." 


Does it matter that the owner had good intentions? Does it matter that he paid a registered forester and an arborist to oversee the excavations and to do the pruning, respectively? Does it matter that the City of Ottawa forestry inspector's instructions for pruning the tree's crown and protecting severed roots are aimed at mitigating the effects of severe root damage? (The latter are akin, it seems to me, to a doctor telling someone who has just lost a kidney that part of the healing process involves amputating an arm.)


Or does it only matter that a sentinel tree, one I have admired for at least 5 years, is another casualty of teardown/build bigger-and-bigger in Kitchissippi Ward? 














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