Toronto

Residents upset after Brampton cuts down mature trees to widen Williams Parkway

The three tall maple trees that ran along Nancy Trembath’s fence provided tons of shade in her backyard and were one of the reasons why she bought her Brampton home. About a week ago, she came back from work to find them chopped into pieces by city workers. 

City making room for 6-lane road that will accommodate volume of traffic expected in 2040

Nancy Trembath stands in front of the pile of wood that was left behind her house after workers from the City of Brampton cut down three large maple trees. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC News)

The three tall maple trees that ran along Nancy Trembath's fence provided tons of shade in her backyard and were one of the reasons why she bought her Brampton home. About a week ago, she came back from work to find them chopped into pieces by city workers. 

"There was no warning," said Trembath. "We got a letter saying some vegetation was going to be cut, but it said that was happening on the other side of the street."

Trembath lives on Newbridge Crescent, but her yard backs onto the north side of Williams Parkway, a four lane road. Right behind her fence, there were three giant maple trees growing on city property.

Earlier this month, she got a notice from the City of Brampton saying "a significant number of mature trees and vegetation" on the south side of Williams Parkway would be removed. 

The top photo is of Nancy Trembath's yard with the tree maple trees hanging over her fence. The bottom photo was taken after the three trees were cut down. (Nancy Trembath)

"I thought, 'Great, that's the opposite side. I get to keep my trees,'" said Trembath. "It's very sad this happened … They were 37-year-old maples."

Concrete barrier to be installed in place of trees

On either side of Williams Parkway there are mature trees, some three storeys tall. The reason Brampton is cutting them down is to put up a concrete barrier and expand the roadway from four to six lanes.  

The move is part of Brampton's master transportation plan to prepare for the city's projected population growth in 2040, but many residents aren't happy about it. 

"We didn't want a wider street," said Christine Nightingale, who lives several doors down from Trembath. "People had a petition back in 2014 saying they didn't want that and it just went on and on. It's beyond shocking."

Trees on the south side of Williams Parkway are marked with orange Xs and caution tape. They're going to be cut down to make way for a concrete sound barrier. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC News )

Nightingale, who has lived in the area for nearly two decades, says the trees along the parkway act as a natural sound barrier. 

"Who wants to look at an ugly concrete wall?" said Nightingale.  

When Trembath found out about Brampton's plan to expand Williams Parkway, she emailed city staff asking if she could keep the trees. Her property is on the curve of the crescent and there's about a metre or two of room between where the trees were and where crews put down preliminarily markings for the concrete wall. 

"It looked like there was enough room to work around the trees and put up a wall that would run parallel to the street," said Trembath. 

Unclear how many trees will be cut 

But Jayne Holmes, the director of capital works for the City of Brampton, says workers probably decided the trees would get in the way of construction once they arrived on site.  

Williams Parkway in Brampton is going to expand from four lanes to six. Construction is expected to start in 2021. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC News )

"You only really know for sure when you're putting out the final layout on how that's going to affect the trees," said Holmes. 

It's unclear exactly how many trees are going to be cut down along the stretch of Williams Parkway between Harridine Road and North Park Drive, but Holmes says the city is doing everything it can to keep as many as possible and also plant new ones once construction is complete. 

"We've worked with our parks department to make sure that we can put back as much compensating landscaping as we can," said Holmes. 

That solution isn't ideal for Trembath and Nightingale. 

"It will take those trees decades to catch up to the others," said Trembath. "They could have done a better job figuring out which ones can go and which can stay."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Natalie Nanowski

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Natalie is a storyteller who spent the last few years in Montreal covering everything from politics to corruption and student protests. Now that she’s back in her hometown of Toronto, she is eagerly rediscovering what makes this city tick, and has a personal interest in real estate and environmental journalism. When she’s not reporting you can find her at a yoga studio or exploring Queen St. Contact Natalie: natalie.nanowski@cbc.ca

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