Yesterday’s crash of a heritage tree in High Park is another reminder of our need to pay more attention to the law regarding trees. Climate change greatly increases the importance of having trees in urban areas, for shade, to protect water, to provide wildlife and bird habitat and to keep us all sane. At the same time, climate change is greatly increasing the stresses on trees. We know that wilder weather, swings from drought and floods, and severe winds will bring down more and more trees and branches in the coming years.
If we focus too much on the risks posed by falling trees, as courts tend to do, we may make it too difficult to preserve the urban forest. At the same time, fair compensation has to be available to those who may be injured or lose property when trees fall. This is the sort of issue that ought to be dealt with by a provincial Trees Act, and isn’t.