The tree is located to the rear of the house at 95 James Street and is a Silver Maple reputedly 130 to 150 years old. The site where it is located is close to where the Eastwood family, who were instrumental in developing Long Branch as a village, had a black barn on their estate, hence its name.
The owner of the property originally applied to City Planning in May of 2018 to add a second story to the existing house and build a newer, larger home. At the time of application, the owners indicated the property was not subject to the Private Tree Bylaw, which protects trees 30 cm and greater in diameter.
The application was approved on September 20, 2019 by the Committee of Adjustment despite a August 21, 2018 memo from Urban Forestry advising there were two healthy mature trees on the property and recommending refusal of the application.
The approval was subsequently appealed by neighbours to the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB).
The CBC News story examines the controversy about residents’ efforts to try to retain the Silver Maple.
The LBNA sought to have the Black Barn Maple, given its age, Heritage Tree status that would ensure it could not be cut down. However, this would require the consent of the property owner, who of course refused. A letter from one of the applicant’s lawyers disputed the age and historic significance of the tree.
Counsel representing the applicant at TLAB argued that the tree was located in an area in which the owner had a right to be able to cut down the tree. Their argument was based on a concept that is not defined in pertinent legislation such as The Planning Act, The Official Plan or the Bylaws.
An ad hoc group of Long Branch residents banded together to try to raise awareness about the tree and the issues surrounding its proposed removal. They have created a website, lawn signs and letter-writing campaigns.
To see the story in the CBC’s website, click here.