New tree sustains damage

Young tree damaged on Roncesvalles.It was truly disheartening to see that a large branch broken on one of our new Black Locust trees between 111 and 113 Roncesvalles one Friday evenng in early October. And it was shattering to see a huge branch torn off the same tree a few days later. The RMRA’s Greening Committee Chair, Bill Montague, called 311 and was told that Forestry would check it out.

This damage had us fearing the worst, that it might have been a victim of vandalism. But, it might also have been a case of extreme carelessness. There had been substantial construction at 115 Roncesvalles Avenue for quite some time, and it is possible that the damange was somehow related, or that a delivery van or something similar snagged the branch.

We’re hoping the cause is the latter and that no one in our neighbourhood would damage a street tree on purpose. At the same time we’re aware that there are great misunderstandings about how trees fit into an urban environment. For example, many people think that tree roots are the cause of pipe damage, whereas it’s leaking, broken pipes that attract tree roots to the available water.

Thankfully, there are tree experts in the neighbourhood keeping a watchful eye. We’ll have to see how this one recovers.

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Signing on

Sign posted on tree identifies species and elicits gentle care

If at first you don't succeed, use bigger staples.

Despite some pranksters pulling down a number of signs posted on the new trees along Roncy’s east side, our volunteers have received enthusiastic approval for the signage from passers by. Our thanks go to Martha Goodings and Bill Montague for their three hours spent on this today.

The signs not only serve to identify each tree’s common name, but we’ve added the Polish name to the replacement signs. They also highlight the planting and maintenance efforts. Looks like the tree guards and grates won’t arrive before next year, so for now the signs are the only thing protecting the trees against bikes and territorial dogs — other than common sense, of course.

Globe and Mail on Roncesvalles renewal: “The result is quite marvellous.”

Spurred by a recent column in the Globe and Mail, John Bowker of the RV BIA shares his reflections.

On June 17, the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee wrote a column about the Bloor Street reconstruction, and briefly mentioned Roncesvalles. He writes:

On Roncesvalles Avenue, too, a major renovation is coming to a happy end. As on Bloor, the street had to be torn up for major work – in Roncey’s case, the laying of new streetcar tracks. The merchants took advantage of the opportunity to spruce up the streetscape. Handsome, pale grey paving stone has been laid for the new, wider sidewalk, with planters, benches and raised transit stops that allow easier access to streetcars for strollers and wheelchairs. New street-level tree planters, replacing the old, raised “tree coffins,” hold 85 new trees, from oaks to maples to chestnuts.

There were delays here, too, and lots of complaints from irritated merchants and residents. The belated discovery that a gas main lay too close to the new tracks meant that the project could not be finished last fall as expected. A dispute with a contractor over manpower caused holdups, too. But the job is on budget and just two weeks from completion, city officials say, with crews laying the final paving stones, putting in bike rings and clearing debris. Councillor Gord Perks says the city held no fewer than 37 community meetings on the design of the street, dealing with everything from the colour of the pavers to the design of the tree grates.

The result is quite marvellous. Roncesvalles, always a lively street, with its pastry shops, delis, bike stores, public library and Revue cinema, was looking a little tired before the do-over. The renovation has given it a fresh, new face. For all the pain they cause, projects like these are just what an ambitious city should be doing, seizing the chance to transform mediocre streetscapes into something better.

It’s nice to see that the hard work of the past several years is showing great results! But as nice as Bloor Street looks, the Roncesvalles reconstruction was different in a few important ways:

Tree guard demo on Roncy

Sample tree guard on Roncesvalles Avenue

Multi-function tree guard.

If you’re walking past 367 Roncesvalles, you’ll see an example of the tree guards coming to the east side of Roncesvalles this fall, along with the tree grates to be installed at grade.

The graceful curved edge at the top serves as a comfortable arm rest when you stop for a chat. These grills can also work for tying up your dog or locking your bike should all of the surrounding bike rings — now sprouting up along Roncy — be taken up.

The four-foot high, New-York style iron grill has a large enough diameter for the tree to grow quite wide before it need be removed. The grates protects the tree bed by preventing further soil compacting by pedestrians.

The City is waiting for the soil around the trees to settle before they’ll install the grates.  In the meantime, cyclists are reminded to lock their bikes to the bike posts and not to the trees.