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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Tree Tuesday: Crombie Park

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Every Tuesday, Todd Irvine of Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF) will post a stop from the Toronto Tree Tours, a collaborative project of LEAF and the Toronto Public Space Committee. The Toronto Tree Tours offers walking tours in neighbourhoods across the city as well as virtual tours on its web site. The aim is to introduce Torontonians to the individual trees in their neighbourhood while telling stories of our city’s ecological and cultural history.

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St. Lawrence neighbourhood tour: Stop 1

Crombie Park was built in the early 1980s as the area transformed from derelict industrial lands to a planned mixed-use neighbourhood. It is named for David A. Crombie, Toronto’s short, plucky mayor who would do much to catalyze the new ideas of Toronto’s burgeoning, young environmental movement. Walking through the park, it is easy to see that it is well-used. Children from the neighbouring school come here because they don’t have a yard of their own. People from nearby condos and apartment buildings frequent the green space to read a book or walk their dog. Kids play basketball as their parents keep an eye on them from their apartment building windows that look out onto the play area. The park also provides much aesthetic appeal.

But with intense use comes added pressure on the trees, one of the most detrimental being soil compaction. The many feet that run and walk throughout the park press down on the soil until there is little space between its tiny particles, leaving little room for oxygen and water, which a tree’s roots need to survive. The symptoms of soil compaction can be found throughout the park, including roots that have risen to the surface in search of oxygen, and bare, grassless dirt. The green ash trees (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) that form two rows along the sidewalk to the north are dying as a result of compaction. Those closer to the street are in poorer condition overall, not only because their roots have less soil space to grow in, but also because the soil has become even more pressed down by people frequently crossing the street. The trees here need mulch to protect their roots, to provide nutrients to the soil, and to help the soil retain water.

Upcoming tours:

September 29, 2007 | 7:00 pm
Kensington Market
Bendale Tree Tour (Scarborough)
October 14, 2007 | 1:00 pm
Birkdale Community Centre

Photo by Luke Tyszkiewicz.


One comment

  1. I agree with everything in your story; Crombie Park is overused and getting a little rundown. It is not unloved.

    Recently a local business added over a dozen trees as part of their greening initiative. A City employee has started an informal program asking developers to donate the landscaping from closed condo presentation centres to communites. Under this program, last year six trees were planted in our childrens’ garden by a local developer.

    A local BIA member and resident has done a tree inventory and encourages the City to replace dead and dying trees.

    We’re working on it.