As trees mature, new neighbourhoods become more like home

By Anita Murray, Ottawa Citizen, September 1, 2020

When I was a kid, we moved into a newly built neighbourhood in Kanata. It was so new that the streets weren’t paved yet, front yards were dirt, and both turned into a muddy soup during spring rains that made getting to the school bus stop an adventure. And, of course, there were no trees — no greenery of any kind, in fact.

While it’s not quite that drastic today, such is the fate of a new subdivision: the trade-off we make to get a newly built home in the suburbs with our choice of lot and floor plan, no repairs and the excitement of being part of a growing community is that it comes minus that mature neighbourhood feel we see in areas where the trees are so big they stretch out and form a green canopy over the street.

(...)Developing a piece of land for a new subdivision requires builders to raze the growth that’s already there. Trying to install infrastructure like water, sewage and roads cannot be done realistically without it, nor is it practical to build homes by trying to work around existing trees that might not even be of good quality. The disturbance to tree roots and the water table can be hard to avoid and can often lead to a tree’s death despite best efforts.

(...)“If it is a big enough lot and the trees are far enough away from the house and the foundation, we have tried to save trees in those instances,” Sachs says, citing the example of White Pines in Bridlewood, where the decision was made to design around the stands of trees. “We made an extraordinary effort to try to save as many of them as possible.”

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