Passersby on the portion of Bloor Street just south of Yorkville are in for an unnerving sight. The stretch of road between Yonge Street and Avenue Road that last week was lined with trees in sidewalk planters is now decked by long rows of tree stumps. The clear-cut is a result of the ongoing Bloor Street Transformation Project, which will see sidewalks on Bloor Street between Church Street and Avenue Road widened and paved with granite, and new planters for trees and flowers installed. New trees will be planted to replace the ones that have just been chopped down.
The replacement planting is scheduled to be completed in 2011, according to a recent newsletter from the Bloor-Yorkville BIA [PDF]. In the meantime, the sight of so many decapitated trees—some, as of yesterday, left uprooted and sitting askew in their planters—might seem alarming to anyone with an attachment to Toronto’s urban forest. It’s as though a crew of crazed lumberjacks convened on the spot and went on an arboreal killing spree. In reality, the trees are a casualty of progress. They’ve merely taken one for the team.
The sad, dilapidated sight stands in contrast to the moneyed boutiques that front on the affected sidewalk. Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Prada all have shops there, to name just a few. The giant green Christmas tree in front of the William Ashley store in the Manulife Centre, a temporary decoration and not a part of the transformation, is practically the last tree standing in the area, with the exception of a trio of trees just west of the intersection of Bloor and Yonge streets, already planted as part of the project by construction workers earlier this year.
Construction on the transformation project began in 2008, between Yonge and Church streets, and renovation on that section of road is already nearly complete. Fifty-eight new London Plane trees have been planted there, in granite planters. The planters are outfitted with what the Bloor-Yorkville BIA website refers to, impressively, as “innovative and sustainable soil cell systems.” These cells are so-called Silva Cells, and are designed to allow tree roots to spread relatively unfettered underneath pavement.
The design for the project, developed by architectsAlliance and Brown + Storey Architects, and funded jointly by the city and by members of the Bloor-Yorkville BIA, calls for eighty more of the new trees to be planted, most of which will be placed west of Yonge Street, to replace those that were just chopped down. For now, though, Bloor Street denizens will need to put up with a bleak, treeless winter streetscape. Not that it wouldn’t have been bleak, anyhow.
Photos by Remi Carreiro/Torontoist.
Hat tip to Martin Reis.