URBAN MATTERS: Sault’s “This Old House”: Missing Trees!

Stopping at the corner of Pim and Wellington Street, I was shocked at the removal of the last large tree on Sault’s “This Old House” property.  I cannot remember a time when the Sault’s “This Old House” wasn’t framed by beautiful trees. 

It was a signature house, on a high-traffic street corner, surrounded by beautiful trees.  What happened to all the trees? 

Interestingly, the answer can be found on Google Maps, Street-View. Go to Google Maps on your phone, pin the street corner of Pim and Wellington Street, and then go to Street-View.  At the bottom of the screen, select “see more dates”, and view the Street-View data capture dates: Oct. 2007, Sept. 2009, July 2012, Aug. 2018, Sept. 2019, June 2021, and present day, (the photo provided above).

Clearly evident, in the chronological progression, is the continued removal of all trees at Sault’s “This Old House” property; leaving the large stumps, and not replacing a single tree after it was cut down. Tree after tree was cut down, but the trees were never replaced.  Street-View traveling up and down Pim Street indicates that other trees and properties didn’t fare much better; and suffered the same treeless fate.

After getting over the shock of the starkness of Sault’s “This Old House” property; I realized that the beauty of those trees made me happy while driving, biking, or walking by that property. Trees are a mental health tool, and what’s left are ugly, onerous tree stumps: neighbourhoods without trees are depressing and a gateway for urban housing blight.  

A 2022 Nature Canada Report, “Urban Forest: Bringing the Tree Canopy to All”, identifies a real correlation of urban tree canopy compared to the demographic areas of a city. In this report, researchers mapped the urban tree cover in five cities; what they found was evidence of major inequities in urban tree planning in disadvantaged, radicalized, and low-income neighbourhoods. The report indicates that the best approach to bringing a tree canopy to all would be adopting a ratio known as the 3-30-300 rule.  

The 3-30-300 tree ratio rule: that “everyone should be able to see at least three trees from their home, that all neighbourhoods should have at least a 30% tree canopy, and that all residents should have a green space of at least one hectare within 300 metres of where they live.”

To adopt the 3-30-300 tree ratio rule/goal, the Sault needs to initiate and complete a number of things:

  1. An Urban Tree Inventory: The Sault requires an urban tree inventory to establish a starting point of where we are in terms of our City’s tree canopy percentage. The Sault has several local GIS data providers that can map out our City’s urban tree canopy. With this data and maps, we can tackle the worst areas of our City facing urban tree planning inequities. The urban tree canopy data and mapping will allow our City to access federal funding under the two (2) Billion Trees Program and the National Urban Parks Program currently open to funding applications. 

  2. Set Rules (municipal by-laws): Peterborough, ON has a municipal tree by-law: no tree can be cut down on private property anywhere in their City without a permit. A permit must be purchased, a City Inspector will inspect the tree, and tree removal will be allowed for a valid reason; however, the home-owner must replace that tree by planting a new tree. If the homeowner does not want to plant a new tree, a $535 fee will be applied by the City of Peterborough to plant a tree on the owner’s behalf.  If you injure, destroy, or cut down a tree without a permit, you will be fined in Peterborough, ON. This is a simple make-sense by-law; cut down a tree, (including the City) and replace it with a new one!
  • Allocate the resources: Our City requires an annual budget for the implementation of the 3-30-300 urban tree plan. Funds are required to maintain and manage the current urban tree canopy, attain the 30 % urban tree canopy, replant the trees that are removed, and ensure proper tree by-law enforcement. 

What happened to the trees at Sault’s “This Old House” is a clear example of “We don’t have the time, we don’t have the money, and we don’t have the staff”; by our City Administration, and that has to end.  We need to have more respect for our City’s Urban Tree Canopy by implementing the 3-30-300 urban tree plan, and creating vibrant tree-filled, healthy neighbourhoods.


Thank you: Nature Canada, and the City of Peterborough.

3 thoughts on “URBAN MATTERS: Sault’s “This Old House”: Missing Trees!

  1. Little Forests in the City -MIYAWAKI FORESTS
    Forests are crucial in the fight against climate change. They act as giant carbon vaults, storing away carbon in their wood, leaves, mosses and soil.

    *Sequester carbon
    *Purify the air by reducing pollutants thus improving air quality.
    *Create a natural oasis for invertebrates and birds.
    *Block sound, wind and dust.
    *Trees are nature’s own air conditioners, cooling the surrounding area.
    *Improve water quality in our watershed. They reduce the force of falling rain, slow the
    flow of water, enhance soil infiltration, purify water and store rain in the soil. Diversity
    may also make them more drought resistant.
    *Improve the wellbeing of residents

    There has been particular focus on planting Miyawaki forests in urban environments as there are significant benefits to tree planting in towns and cities, and this method maximises the space available.

    The Miyawaki Method has been used successfully around the world in over 3000 projects and the numbers are now also rising in Europe.

    Miyawaki forests have been established in eight places in Ontario and Quebec including Kingston, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Haliburton. There are plans for at least 10 more in British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and one on Sussex Drive in Ottawa.

    THE MIYAWAKI METHOD is one of the most effective tree planting methods for creating forest cover quickly on degraded land that has been used for other purposes such as agriculture or construction. It is effective because it is based on natural reforestation principles, i.e., using trees native to the area and replicating natural forest regeneration processes. It has some significant benefits over more traditional forestry methods when used in smaller afforestation projects and is particularly effective in the urban environment.

    *Trees in a Miyawaki forest grow up to ten times faster at around a metre per year, reaching a
    stable multi-layered forest community in 20 to 30 years instead of hundreds of years.
    *The trees in a Miyawaki forest absorb 30 times as much carbon as a normal forest because it’s
    so densely planted, the trees grow more quickly and there are 30 times as many.
    *The Miyawaki method has been successful where other planting projects have failed, due to
    high survival rates.
    *Native trees thrive in the conditions to which they are adapted and are more resilient to environmental changes.
    *Miyawaki forests have been found to have far higher biodiversity than neighbouring woodland,
    on average 18 times higher.

    A minimum of 1,000 sq ft is required to set up a dense Miyawaki forest where 250 saplings can be planted. However, it is also possible to create forests in an area as small as 100 sq ft, but that would be much less dense. Thus, Miyawaki forests can also be created in one’s backyard or a private space.

    Kingston: Little Forests Kingston (using Miyawaki forests theory) has provided city residents with aids to use this technique in town. They are using parks and strips of neglected public land.

    *1000 Islands Master Gardeners are building up species lists and landscape designs for
    replacing lawns with front yard Little Forests. We’ve created a spreadsheet to help you identify
    species for your front yard Little Forest. They have a “Front Yard Little Forest KitsDownload.”
    Taken from: https://rideau1000islandsmastergardeners.com/little-forests-kingston/

    Hamilton: The first Miyawaki Forests in Hamilton were planted at Windermere Basin. A collaboration between CanPlant and Green Venture, and in partnership with the City of Hamilton’s Forestry section, the microforest was planted based upon the innovative Miyawaki method of reforestation. 500 trees were planted in two 100m2 plots.

    Haliburton: A Miyawaki Forest has been planted in a barren spot near Haliburton, Ont., where so much gravel had been dug out of open pits for so long that the land was labelled industrially exhausted.

    The Sault Ste. Marie Community Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan 2020 – 2030 was
    approved December 14, 2020 by the elected councillors and mayor.

    Encourage tree planting and PRESERVATION OF NATURAL AREAS a priority as part of
    community sustainability efforts.

    The Sault Climate Hub hosted a webinar presentation by Joyce Hostyn, Co-Founder Little Forests Kingston, a Master Gardener, a permaculture designer and an adjunct professor at Queen’s University in the Master of Earth and Energy Resources Leadership program.
    “Little Forests in every neighbourhood, linked by ecological corridors, are powerful catalysts for
    bringing climate, social and multispecies justice into urban areas. Little Forests restore
    relationships, increase connectivity and act as mother patches and stepping stones for
    species migration.”
    She has offered to assist other communities to plant “Little Forests.”

  2. Who did those trees belong to? If they were on private property then the owner had a right to take them down if he so desired.
    IF they were on city property….SHAME ON CITY HALL.
    The city could have trimmed and shaped them rather than destroying them.

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