Residents Fight to Save 100 Years of History in Old Ottawa East

Homeowners in Old Ottawa East are doing everything they can to save two-century old maple trees from the bulldozer of Greystone Village developers. Having failed to convince the developers that the trees will not survive the construction, residents are urging the city to help them find a resolution. 

In June 2014, Regional Group acquired 26 acres of land from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate on which they have begun construction of a 900-home riverfront community called Greystone Village. Regional Group has been developing land in Ottawa for decades.

Centred around the Edifice Deschâtelets Scholasticate Monastery, a heritage building, Regional Group and EQ Homes has designed the project in such a way that the new community will take after its natural surroundings and retain key heritage components. Despite their green design principles, Regional Group is now threatening to bulldoze 100 years of history in Old Ottawa East.

For the last year and a half, Regional Group has been promising to keep the two century-old trees, proposing the use of a lego-like system that would provide structural support to the trees. At the last minute, and without much consultation, they have decided to cut them down as the system isn't viable in this scenario.

Ottawa City Council candidate for Capital Ward, Shawn Menard told Ottawa Life Magazine, "I lived in Old Ottawa East for several years, and appreciated the historic nature of the community, including the former Oblates property which boasted some of the most magnificent tree canopy in Ottawa. The Greystone development has notably taken down several trees on the property, but these two trees are different. They are some of the oldest trees and one may, in fact, be the largest tree in Old Ottawa East with a circumference of 11 feet. This community is changing, but unnecessarily removing old growth trees, when a promise had been made for a year and a half by the developer to keep them, does not fit with the fabric of this community."

Residents who hope to preserve the neighborhood’s heritage and rich tree canopy have been fighting plans to cut down the two century-old trees on a private property line. Shawn Menard is among them. He recently launched a petition in opposition to Regional Group’s plans to cut down the trees.

“This is a prime example of corporate development taking precedence over people, which our Councillor has done precious little to combat,” said Shawn Menard. “Rather than honouring a promise that was made a year and a half ago, the developer feels entitled to change the landscape with little to no consideration for the community.”

The City is expected to issue a permit for cutting down the trees as early as August 15. 

"City staff have been contacted and the petition will be presented to them and the developer," said Shawn Menard. "We collected over 100 signatures in one day online and in print, and will be at the Main Farmer's Market and other areas to continue informing residents of this sudden change of direction."