Residents tend to like them. Businesses tend not to.
The city's 8,000 street trees-and how they are managed-can be the source of some frustration and conflict so city hall plans to create a new policy to help clarify things.
The city's ornamental plum trees are an example of the conflict sometimes experienced. The trees are bemoaned by some businesses that feel they block signage, yet they are beloved by residents, particularly when they flower in the spring.
Nearly 30 years ago, the city planted 631 ornamental plum trees on Spadina Avenue and Yale and Airport roads as an Expo '86 legacy.
Of these, 481 remain, many of which are nearing the end of their life span, according to manager of parks Dave Snider.
"In a lot of cases when Mr. Snider has to go in to take down trees, business finds they like it better," chief administrative officer Peter Monteith explained to council about the need for a policy. "So it puts staff in a position where you want to help . . . but the public likes the trees."
At the Jan. 22 meeting, Snider gave council a detailed presentation on street trees, including their benefits and costs.
Trees provide oxygen, shade the ground and sequester carbon. Studies have shown they also reduce pedestrian and motorist speed, which improves shopping experiences and safety.
The city's budget for urban trees is $95,000 annually, which includes the cost of taking care of trees after natural events such as windstorms.
Residents may have noticed that in some cases when trees such as the ornamental plums are replaced, the city has put in a new species.
"We are trying to diversify the species so that we have a broader health in this urban forest as well as giving the community a different show," Snider said.
The staff recommendation approved unanimously by city council formalized the current practice of city staff into policy.
Council directed staff to create a street tree management policy covering the inventory, maintenance, removal and replacement of street trees. City staff will be able to cite the policy when there are business and residential concerns about tree removal and replacement.