Why are trees being cut near Sheridan College?

The roots of these were eroding the soil and properties.
Photo credit: Prof Cindy Burgess

Focus statement: Oakville municipality is removing trees because the creeks are damaging people’s houses

The Town of Oakville committee uprooted trees from the forest near Sheridan College in Oakville earlier this week. 

The trees were outgrowing and entering people’s backyards and homes in the neighboring areas. The creek has been eroding at the bottom of the slope, making landowners lose their land and making the fences fall off or hang loose.

In a healthy, spacious land, tree roots tend to outgrow their usual growth. A paper suggests that tree roots generally grow between 18 to 24 inches. But when there’s more space, the roots tend to grow two to three times more than the usual size. However, these roots often cause damage to properties, infrastructure, and utilities. 

The Morrison Creek Stabilization and Rehabilitation committee identified creek erosions from Upper Middle Road to McCraney Street under the Municipal Environment Assessment (EA) program. 

There are five such sites identified between the two locations where trees will be removed, and creeks will be realigned to protect the existing creek.

The committee plans to compensate the loss of vegetation by planting more trees in a different location

The creek rehabilitation project under the Town of Oakville has been working on the removal and rehabilitation of trees and creeks for eight years.  The committee conducted a study in collaboration with a project designed by the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment. The project will reduce the risk to properties caused by the eroded soil, outgrowing tree branches and ruined creeks. 

Creek Rehabilitation project coordinator Kristina Parker says, “We have consulted the public, worked on the details of design and then got our permit for the project over these years.” The project has been approved under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. 

Kristina says the project is now on hold until July. Removing the trees near the bank was the first part of the project which was done this month. Later in the year, the channel will be shifted back and the committee will be reconstructing the creek to realign it. 

Parker says that the removal of trees is a part of the balance. She added, “To mitigate the eroding infrastructure and soil, we have to move the channel. But we will be compensating for the loss of trees.” 

The Creek and Rehabilitation committee, Kristina added, tweak their design to protect important vegetation and trees from getting uprooted. They also make sure that they remove any dead plantation that may cause trouble for other trees in the future.

To compensate for the loss, the committee plans to plant more trees in other areas. 

Sheridan College professor Cindy Burgess says that she was walking back home when she noticed a team of people cutting down trees in the forest at the back of Sheridan College.  

There was a small team of three people deployed at the project site, taking into consideration the deadly pandemic. 

Kristina mentioned that the office hours have moved online due to the pandemic and only two or three people are allowed to work in the office at a time. This has impacted the speed of the project with lesser people on the site as well as in the office, along with changes in the dates of the project commencement. 

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Written by
Ritika Dubey

Ritika Dubey is a journalism-New Media (PG) student at Sheridan College. An Indian journalist, she is passionate about reporting on environmental issues. Ritika has a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, with majors in the English language. She is a research scholar, digital illustrator, avid reader and traveller. She moved to Canada in August 2019 and currently lives in Oakville, Ontario.

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