Ottawa

Kanata 'tree massacre' charges withdrawn, city says

The city has withdrawn two charges against Metcalfe Realty after a Kanata woodlot was clear cut last year, saying that a prosecutor found there wasn't sufficient evidence.

Prosecutor found there was not sufficient evidence to prove charges beyond reasonable doubt

The City of Ottawa issued a stop work order after the clearcutting of trees in Kanata. (City of Ottawa)

The city has withdrawn two charges against Metcalfe Realty after a Kanata woodlot was clear cut last year, saying that a prosecutor found there wasn't sufficient evidence.

In June 2014, the City of Ottawa issued a stop work order against Metcalfe Realty and later laid charges against the company under the Urban Tree Conservation Bylaw for allegedly destroying and injuring trees in May 2014 at 936 March Rd. A charge was also laid against Ottawa Valley Tree Experts.

Under the bylaw, a permit is required to cut down trees greater than 10 centimetres in diameter at breast height. The penalty for violating the bylaw ranges from $500 to $100,000.

At the time, city Coun. Marianne Wilkinson called the clear cut "a tree massacre."

But in a memo to the mayor and city councillors on Thursday, city solicitor Rick O'Connor wrote that there wasn't sufficient evidence.

"Following two separate pre-trials on these charges, the prosecutor concluded that there was not sufficient evidence that could properly prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt and, as a result, the prosecution was discontinued," O'Connor wrote.

'They were not trees'

At the time the stop work order was issued in June 2014, the landowner's lawyer told CBC News that to their knowledge, no trees with diameters of 10 cm or greater, at breast height, were cut down.

"So what he was cutting was effectively scrub or brush or shrubs, whatever you want to call it. They were not trees within the meaning of the bylaw," Polowin said.

He added that while the city had indicated it was interested in the woodland, his client wasn't obligated to do anything about it.

"There was some discussion of the city's interest in it, but he was under no obligation to not do with his land what he wanted to do with his land. ... Sure the city had some interest in this woodland, but what the arborist told me was, these weren't trees. This was scrub."

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