Toronto wins judicial hearing to preserve 250-year-old heritage tree

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

A judicial hearing has ruled the City of Toronto can purchase 76 Coral Gable Dr. to preserve a 250-year-old, red oak, heritage tree located on private property at the site. The city has a signed agreement with the landowners to purchase the property site, however the current owners were asking to be released from that contract.

At the Oct. 14 hearing, Justice Susan Vella ruled in favour of the city proceeding with the land purchase on or before Dec. 1.

76 coral gables
Google Street View image of 76 Coral Gables with the tree behind the house

The decision states the court will issue a vesting order granting title to the municipality on Dec. 1, provided the agreed purchase price of $780,000 less certain deductions is paid. Justice Vella also ordered costs of $7,500 against the homeowners, payable to the within 30 days or deductible from the purchase price.

In her reasoning, Vella noted the 250-year-old tree, growing in the backyard of the property, has been recognized as a heritage tree. She determined that there is a public benefit being created through the transaction to view and enjoy this tree and ensure its preservation by converting the property into a public park.

Council approved the purchase of the site at a November 2020 meeting.

Once the City takes ownership of the site, next steps include:

  • Demolition of the house, site restoration, finalization of a park plan, construction and park opening
  • A variety of public consultation and information activities throughout the design and construction phases of the park

Donors contributed more than $400,000 towards the purchase of the site to preserve this oak tree and enhance a new parkette expected to be built in the future. From corporate donations to a child selling handmade bracelets, the fundraising campaign garnered international attention and contributions from more than 1,500 donors.

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