Regulation Society Battle Over Tree-Chopping Has “Avatar” Vibe

For individuals who’ve been to the flicks currently, you’ll know that the sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 epic science fiction movie “Avatar” has lastly hit the theatres. With the title “Avatar: The Means of Water”, the 2022 sequel is a graphically stunning 3-hour journey, stuffed with beautiful imagery and visible metaphors. 

One of many core photographs of each movies is the tall, willow-like Tree of Souls. In response to the fan-site, it’s the sacred web site for the Omatikaya Na’vi clan, and is their closest connection to Eywa (or “Nice Mom”, the guiding drive of life). One of many details of battle within the first movie particularly, is between the Na’vi and the human navy, who intend to destroy the Tree of Souls with a large bomb.

Nicely, the Regulation Society of Ontario is waging its personal battle over timber – however this time it’s a authorized fairly than religious one.   

The battle is with Metrolinx, which is the provincial company tasked with increasing the Toronto Transit Fee subway line.   A few of Metrolinx’s work is on the historic downtown Toronto web site that homes the venerable Osgoode Corridor, in addition to the Ontario Court docket of Attraction, the Superior Court docket of Justice, and the workplaces of the Regulation Society itself.  The property can also be dwelling to 11 mature timber, on a strip that Metrolinx expropriated to facilitate the subway growth.  

When Metrolinx began slicing down the timber, the Regulation Society took authorized motion.  On Sunday February 5, 2023, it obtained a court-ordered injunction, briefly halting work. This was after its attorneys requested pressing hearings within the days main up. 

Since then, varied requests for injunctions and extensions have been heard by three ranges of Ontario courtroom, and the elimination course of has stopped and legally re-started a number of occasions.   On the time of writing, 5 of the timber have already been taken down, 4 have been closely pruned, and two are nonetheless untouched.

The ultimate consequence of these quite a few proceedings has but to be decided, however within the meantime they provide an attention-grabbing glimpse at how city landscaping works.  For instance, one of many injunction purposes was introduced by the Haudenosaunee Growth Institute (HDI), which is an Indigenous group.  They’d requested Metrolinx to be compensated for the tree elimination, asserting that their treaty rights and pursuits have been being impacted.  They needed work to stop till their dispute with Metrolinx could possibly be resolved.

In a February 10, 2023 ruling that rejects HDI’s injunction request (which resolution is now subject to an appeal scheduled for February 20, 2023), the courtroom famous HDI’s assertions that the contentious timber are 200 years outdated.  However in response to the Curator of the Regulation Society, they’re really a lot youthful than that, with most being planted after 1965.  Because the courtroom defined: 

The timber are the dominant characteristic of the grounds and have been the best supply of backyard bills for the Regulation Society. Opposite to standard perception, few if any of the timber return additional than World Battle Two, and there was a variety of turnover through the years. Life is difficult for metropolis timber. A lot of our timber, together with the lindens, honey locusts, and flowering crab apples, date from 1965, and as time goes on, the tree cowl will proceed to alter. Our present substitute coverage favours native species such because the purple oak, the Jap white pine, the American beech and the hop-hornbeam.

In any case, the courtroom added, Metrolinx is contractually-obligated to interchange any timber it cuts down. When it comes to the environmental and archeological affect of the development undertaking, Metrolinx has additionally commissioned quite a few experiences and research, and has engaged extensively with varied stakeholders alongside the best way.  These included HDI itself, and different Indigenous teams comparable to Six Nations of the Grand River. 

It’s an attention-grabbing authorized difficulty, and maybe an environmental, cultural, and historic one as nicely.  Many pursuits and obligations are but to be untangled … identical to tree roots.

Full textual content of the choices:

Law Society of Ontario v. Metrolinx, 2023 ONSC 1169   

Haudenosaunee Development Institute v. Metrolinx, 2023 ONSC 1170 (CanLII) 

Development Institute v. Metrolinx, 2023 ONSC 1170 (CanLII)