Of all neighbourhoods in Toronto, one would think Yorkville would have the means to keep a few sidewalk trees fed and happy, but evidently not. A few days ago, the Star’s Jack Lakey pointed out the obvious: “Half the trees on the north side [of Bloor] have withered,” he wrote, “while about a third of the trees on the south side have given up the fight.” Lakey spoke to Toronto urban forestry manager Dean Hart, who theorized that the die-off was caused by this year’s unusually harsh winter, and particularly all the salt that was scattered on Yorkville’s sidewalks to combat the freeze.
That can’t be the whole story, though, because the poor condition of Yorkville’s foliage also attracted some notice back in 2012, when the Globe reported that many of the strip’s London plane trees, installed as part of a lengthy sidewalk-improvement project that was completed in 2011, were already totally bare of leaves and tangled up with stray plastic bags. The tree problems are especially perplexing because the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area invested in some fancy technology specifically to prevent this outcome. The tree planters between Bay and Church streets are outfitted with Silva Cells, special subterranean soil containers designed to give tree roots plenty of room to spread. But trees can’t live on money alone, we guess.