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Parliament Hill renovations threaten heritage tree, group says

A number of trees on the Hill are being threatened by the Centre Block renovation.
An arrow denotes the location of the tree in a screenshot from the Parliament Hill webcam. The Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital worries the tree threatened by renovations Centre Block. Supplied/Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital

An elm tree on Parliament Hill may be threatened by the Centre Block renovation. 

The Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital (GACC) is urging the Federal Government to ensure the roughly hundred year old tree remains on Parliament Hill.

In a letter to the NCC, the GACC said that the white elm should be listed as a heritage tree under the Forests Ontario program

There are six heritage trees in Ottawa, but none of them are on federal property.

According to Forests Ontario, in order for a tree to qualify, it must be associated with a historic person or event, or be growing on historically significant land. 

The Greenspace Alliance believes the tree deserves heritage status because:

  • It is associated with the prominent statue of Sir John A. MacDonald onParliament Hill
  • It has likely been there since the 1920s, maybe earlier.
  • It survived the plague of Dutch Elm Disease that killed millions of elms in the1980s all across Ontario.
  • It is a landmark tree and may in fact be the largest tree remaining on Parliament Hill, which has been denuded of trees over the last 40 years.

"It's important that the government take steps not only to save this beautiful elm tree but to do what's right and have it listed as a heritage tree," said Paul Johanis, chair of the GACC. "These assurances are crucial because if we get caught up in a game of bureaucratic ping pong, we’ll wake up one morning to find the tree not standing anymore."

Public Services and Procurement Canada submitted a tree and monument relocation plan to the NCC, but GACC said this would entail the removal and several trees from the Hill.

The NCC is currently reviewing the the relocation strategy for the Centre Block renovation.

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