Tree removal at 35-40 Silvercreek Parkway South starts late July

Guelph, Ont., July 14, 2017 – The City will issue a tree permit allowing the property owner of 35-40 Silvercreek Parkway South, also known as the LaFarge lands, to begin tree removal in July.

The tree permit, to be issued in accordance with Guelph’s Tree Bylaw, allows for the removal of 1,950 trees. Those trees along the Howitt Creek stream corridor and the railway lines will remain untouched and the large bur oak on the site will be protected.

“We are working with the property owner to ensure compensation is provided for the removed trees,” explains April Nix, environmental planner with the City of Guelph. “Throughout the process, we will continue to ensure the property owner complies with Guelph’s tree bylaw, while providing protection of natural heritage features including Howitt Creek.”

More than 3,400 future trees and shrubs will be planted on site as it is developed, and compensation will also be provided to plant trees in other areas of Guelph.

The property owner will remove the trees this summer to get the site ready for future development. No specific development proposal or site plan application has been submitted to the City. The site is zoned to permit a mix of commercial, high density residential and employment lands.

This site is private property and residents are reminded not to enter and for safety reasons, access to Silvercreek Parkway South—between approximately Paisley Road and Eden Street—will be closed indefinitely.

Location map of 35-40 Silvercreek Parkway South

Location map of 35-40 Silvercreek Parkway South

About Guelph’s Tree Bylaw

Guelph’s Tree Bylaw prohibits damage or destruction of any tree measuring at least 10 centimetres in diameter at 1.4 metres above the ground on lots larger than 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres) without permission from the City. Dead or dying trees, trees posing danger to life or property, or trees impacted by unforeseen causes or natural events are exempt from the bylaw. Please refer to the Tree Bylaw for details.

Questions and answers

Does the tree bylaw apply to the property? 

The City’s tree bylaw applies to the property because it’s larger than 0.2 hectares (half an acre). The tree bylaw enables the City to require compensation for trees being removed and to ensure the requirements included in the tree permit are being met. The tree removal permit issued for 35-40 Silvercreek Parkway South complies with Guelph’s tree bylaw.

What will be done to provide compensation for the trees being removed?

Cash in lieu will be provided to plant trees in other areas of Guelph and more than 3400 future tree and shrub plantings will be done on site when development is complete, including potential enhancement of natural areas along Howitt Creek. More than 2800 plantings were also provided previously by the applicant in anticipation of the tree removals on site.

Has a site plan application or other development application been made for the site?

A site plan application is required before development can occur on the property.  No site plan application has been received by the City.

What is the current zoning on the site?

The property is zoned for a mix of commercial, high density residential and employment lands.

Why is tree protection not being considered as part of the development process?

When the zoning applications were approved for thw site, impacts including tree removal, tree protection opportunities and the protection of Howitt Creek were considered through the planning process.  The area from which the trees are being removed, respects the development limits and tree protection decisions that have been put in place, through the previous planning decisions that have been made.

Why remove the trees now?

By allowing the tree removals to occur now it enables the owner to get the site into a more development ready state.  This will also support the ability for the owner to complete additional technical studies to make a site plan or other development application in the future.

Can the tree removal be delayed until the property owner is ready to sell or develop the property?

Tree removal on the site cannot be delayed now that a tree permit has been issued.

What is being done to protect Howitt Creek on the site?

Through the tree permit the City is requiring mitigation measures to protect the creek corridor including the trees in this area.  Fencing will ensure that tree removals only happen within the approved area and remain outside of the creek corridor.  Mulch will also be placed on site to help stabilize cleared areas to prevent runoff towards the creek. The fencing will also help filter any potential runoff that may drain from the site to protect water quality in the creek. Staff will be monitoring the site closely to ensure that the fencing remains in place and in good repair.

Does issuing a tree permit for 35-40 Silvercreek Parkway South conflict with the 2009 Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) settlement related to the property?

City staff, considered these issues when the tree permit application was first being made. Staff concluded that issuing a tree permit for 35-40 Silvercreek Parkway South does not violate the terms of the 2009 OMB settlement.  The minutes of settlement do not prohibit the property owner from applying for tree removals outside of a Planning Act application. Tree removal permits issued under Guelph’s Private Tree Protection Bylaw are not required to be tied to any specific development proposal.

In addition, the conditions of approval of the 2009 Zoning and Official Plan amendments allow the City to give permission for tree removals, as long as a tree inventory and conservation plan is also submitted. Both a tree inventory and conservation plan were provided and approved by staff as part of the tree permit process.

Is tree removal considered development, which is prohibited until the conditions of the holding provision on the property are satisfied?

The holding provision is meant to prevent development of the property until all the conditions are fulfilled, however, tree removal is not considered development as defined in the City’s zoning bylaw.

How does the City approach the protection of trees, wildlife and significant natural features when preparing to issue a tree permit and while work is happening on site?

During the review of a tree permit

The tree bylaw requires a City inspector to consider “the preservation and protection of ecological systems and their functions including the protection and preservation of native flora and fauna” when making a decision on whether or not to issue a tree removal permit.  Through this permit application, an updated environmental study and tree inventory was provided to staff for review. This information was used to inform the tree permit with consideration for the City’s natural heritage system policies found in the Official Plan, other applicable environment laws (Endangered Species Act, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act) and also the planning decisions that have been made previously regarding the development limits for the property.

Staff and the property owner also used this information to develop mitigation measures being completed on the site, which are part of the tree permit.

During tree removals and work happening on site

The City is working with the property owner to implement mitigation measures on the site, including:

  • Having a biologist available on site to help relocate wildlife and ensure that requirements for any protected species are met – such as checking for and protecting nesting birds.
  • Protecting areas of milkweed throughout the early fall to support  Monarch butterfly breeding and feeding.
  • Ensuring due diligence has been undertaken by the property owner to stay in compliance with all Provincial and Federal requirements including the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Birds Convention Act.
  • Installing fencing to help ensure that tree removals only happen within the approved area and remain outside of the Howitt Creek corridor.
  • Using mulch to help stabilize cleared areas of the site to prevent runoff towards Howitt creek.
  • Using fencing to help filter any potential runoff that may drain from the site to protect water quality in the creek.

After the trees have been removed

Some of the compensating plantings will be used to:

  • help further restore and enhance the western shoreline of Howitt Creek
  • help offset the impacts from the tree removals on site
  • improve wildlife habitat within the Howitt creek corridor

How will the City ensure that compensation plantings will establish and grow?

Through the tree permit the City is taking measures to ensure that the plantings will have the best chance at growing and thriving.  A warranty ensures that all plantings will be inspected after a two year time frame and those plants found to be in poor health or dead will be replaced at the contractors expense. A second measure is to ensure all plantings are part of a maintenance plan which includes mulching and watering during the two year warranty period.  A maintenance plan ensures that care is provided by the contractor to all plantings, from the time they are planted, to the day they are accepted by the City. A bit of care to each planting by the contractor is much cheaper than replacement at the end of the two year warranty, and provides stronger and larger plants that have a better chance to thrive on their own.

For more information

April Nix, Environmental Planner
Planning, Urban Design and Building Services
519-822-1260 extension 2718
april.nix@guelph.ca