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Tory ‘horrified’ after developer clear-cuts 30 trees

CityNews | posted Friday, Jul 29th, 2016

Mayor John Tory says he is “horrified” after a developer chopped down 30 trees on two lots in York Mills, adding it may be the worst case of illegal clearing ever in Toronto.

He said forestry staff estimates dozens of trees were destroyed without a permit over the weekend, at 103 and 108 Bayview Ridge near Bayview Avenue and York Mills Road, confirming a story CityNewsfirst reported on Wednesday.

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) recently approved the development there of 11 townhouse units and four single, detached dwellings.

“This, I’m told by our official … may well be the largest single alleged infraction ever in terms of the number of trees and the size of the trees that were cut down,” Tory told reporters on Thursday.

“This should be a case … that calls for a very harsh penalty. The kinds of penalties we’ve seen sometimes imposed in the past don’t even begin … to indicate how unacceptable this conduct is if it’s found to have contravened the law.”

The maximum fine for removing a protected tree without a permit is $100,000 a tree. That fine has never been levied.

The developer, Format Group, issued a statement to CityNews saying their arborist had prepared a report for the city outlining the number of trees to be removed and they figured they could start preparing the site before the permit arrived.

“We assumed we were allowed to follow the report and prepare the site in anticipation of the building permit, since it was clear that the documentation was imminent,” the statement reads.

But Tory said if the company’s owner was sophisticated enough to hire a lawyer to go to the OMB and conducted a complete inventory of trees on the property, he likely knew what he was doing.

“The notion to me that this is some mystery, that this person knew nothing about this and didn’t know they had to apply for a permit or thought the OMB decision authorized a permit is not really believable.”

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