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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Tree Tuesday: The Narrowing of Gladstone

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Every Tuesday, Todd Irvine of LEAF posts 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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Dovercourt Park & Neighbourhood Tour: Stop 5

In response to residents’ concerns that people were driving too fast down Gladstone Avenue, the City’s Works Department decided to narrow the road from Dupont Avenue to Bloor Street. The neighbourhood group Green Here saw this roadwork as an opportunity to improve the appearance and ecological health of the street by having a row of trees added as part of the reconstruction.

Through persistence, they were able to convince the City Works Department to direct a portion of the money slated to repair the road towards planting trees on the boulevard. In the summer of 2005, 70 trees were planted, many of which are native species including burr oak (Quercus macrocarpa), red oak (Quercus rubra), tulip-tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus).

Studies have found that trees lining a street calm drivers, thereby reducing their driving speed. As they get larger, the trees will shade the sidewalk, cooling pedestrians and protecting them from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Finally, shading the asphalt reduces the damaging effects of the hot sun that bakes its surface, prolonging the time between repairs to the road, which saves the City money.

Read more stories from the Dovercourt neighbourhood tree tour . . .

Photo by Dougal Bichan



  1. Green Here – a great name for an urban forestry organization! I enjoy reading the Tree Tuesday posts; the series has inspired one of my own (see the blog).

  2. Great ideas – too bad the next killer summer drought will finish off those trees because some homeowners won’t water them since the City keeps raising water rates on one hand, and then encourages people to water their trees on the other. Sadly, many homeowners/tenants would rather save a nickel and don’t water the trees. It’s infuriating.

  3. What a glorious picture! [especially during the dark season of the year]

    Rob L is absolutely right. If there’s a new tree near your house, please give it a bucket of water every day or so during the warm season. Rain water collected from your downspout works perfectly. You’ll be rewarded with filtered shade, beautiful street-scapes like the one pictured above, and cleaner air.

  4. Which is better to water trees – downspout water which has run off asphalt shingles or chlorinated city water?

    Also, not everyone has a meter. You can tell those that don’t because they are the ones who water the pavement with ill-aimed lawn sprayers.

  5. Mark > My guess is the rain water, despite running off an asphalt roof it is not chlorinated and more importantly did not require the added resources and fossil fuels to treat it and pump it through the many pipes to our taps.

    Overall, water harvesting and rain barrels are the way to go.

  6. I don’t see the issue here. A bucket of water a day is in the end not much water if you are paying and if you have a rain barrel like me it only needs to rain a few times a year (including winter thaw) to stay filled. Water is still, no joke intended, dirt cheap.

    If the city wants to narrow my street making it more people friendly and put more trees on it I will personally water them all on my dime. This is a no brainer.

  7. We now make it illegal to harm a tree on our property.Recent legislation forces owners to pay for a permit to cut down a tree whenever they renovate or put in an addition or build a new garage.As Joe Pantalone put it “if they can afford to build a new garage they can afford to pay more for a permit”.Well why is the city not passing a bylaw that makes it illegal for a homeowner not to take care of the tree in front or near their property?Fines can range in the $1000.00 per incident range and inspectors can patrol in a similar way to parking enforcement agents.If citizens want trees then they should be expected to pay for their up-keep.In fact if roots do any damage to city property the homeowners insurance should cover those incidents as well.Considering the amount of damage that is done to sewer and water pipes every year it would be prudent to do so.
    Just a suggestion if you truly want to help save the trees.

  8. Technically most trees the City plants are on City property. Any damage like the many Norway Maples that are falling is being paid for by the City including removal (as from my property and most of the properties on my street). It may look like my front lawn but most of it belongs to the City. All the trees on Lansdowne I think are on City land. I would guess that most damage to sewers is from City trees on City land.

  9. yes scott point well taken but maybe that should change.The division between what is city and what is private has fallen when it comes to trees.Surely you will agree that we are all custodians of the urban forest and as such we should share in the cost of upkeep.We the residents want the trees its time we the residents take responsibility for their upkeep.I don’t think anybody here would disagree with the idea of taking full responsibility for the liability of a tree that is on property that extends to the street.The city has enough debt, and the forestry department is so short handed that there is a year long wait list to trim a tree.So I look forward to the new by-laws that will enforce the new maintenance procedure.Remember we are already required to clean the snow on the sidewalks that are city property,this is such a minor request.And the bill can be easily added to the property tax invoice.See problem solved.

  10. I’m curious to hear an official comment from LEAF about the CAMH logging project.

  11. Actually the CAMH project is administered by Joe Pantalone.He can give you details why he is allowed to chop down healthy trees and nobody else in the city isn’t.

  12. I don’t know much about the CAMH issue or Deputy Mayor Pantalone’s role in it but I do know with certainty that the only thing the Deputy Mayor administers in this city is his office. Not including other political offices, everything else at the City of Toronto is administered by bureaucrats.

  13. soeey to break your bubble Adam but Joe answered directly to the media when the crisis occured not a beureacrat.He explained that soil tests done made the area toxic for the trees and they had to be cut down.Requests for those tests are referred to Joe Pantalone since he is the tree advocat for the city and the “buck stops” with him.The voters in tha area are very disapointed with Joe on this matter.I dealt directly with his personal secretary at CAMH meetings in regards to that project, so don’t tell me Joe had no say in the matter.

  14. Having influence on a project and administering it are two different things. The fact that its a provincially run site by an agency not controlled by the city, its pretty clear who is running this project. Your hate-on and constant blaming of Joe P is getting tiresome.

  15. actually I’m not tired of it and you are dead wrong otherwise if land is provincially owned they wouldn’t have to follow the city of toronto bylaws protecting trees!In fact Jow was adamant and was the person who was the spokesperson defending the cutting. Why he was the one who protected the trees before the election.Just ask anybody in the neighborhood, they voted for him because of his grand stand to protect those trees.Ask anybody that lives nearby if they still support Joe.They called me when the trees went down to do something about it.
    So please keep your insults to yourself milo or whoever you are and start getting involved with local issues and get Joe Pantalone to clarify if I am wrong. Good Luck!!!!