Finch LRT project tackles tree removal and preservation along transit route

Building a new light rail transit system means more than charting a course around existing buildings and past electrical wires now powering neighbourhoods. For the Finch West LRT, it also means pruning away trees, while having a plan to keep communities green for generations. Which is where the arborist comes onto the scene.

The Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT) project continues to make great strides along Finch Avenue West, as crews navigate the country’s most populated city.

That means figuring out smart ways to navigate things that are already part of the landscape.

To accommodate construction of the new LRT, the roadway needs to be widened, meaning crews may need to remove street furniture or trees that impede construction areas.

Trees stand around an artist rendering.

Balancing nature with a modern light rail transit system for Toronto will be key for local residents. In this artist rendering, trees sit outside a Finch West LRT building. (Metrolinx photo)

There are many factors that contribute to tree removal along the project corridor. Trees and other vegetation are removed from land needed for the Finch West LRT tracks, stops and stations, related facilities, and construction staging areas along the project corridor.

Tree removal on the LRT project is done in tandem by Finch West LRT constructor, Mosaic Transit Group, and a certified arborist who identifies what trees can be removed and works to create a tree preservation plan to protect, maintain and prune existing trees that may pose a safety risk.

Those safety considerations – for crews and the community – are vital.

Tree removal has already taken place along the corridor in late September 2019 as part of phase one. Work was done with the community to ensure minimal trees removed from the south side of Finch Avenue West from the Black Creek to Tangiers Road.  During phase two this August, until the end of the year, crews will continue to remove the planned  trees from the north side of Finch Avenue from Tangiers Road to west of Signet Drive/Arrow Road.

But not all trees are lost. Upon completion of the project, Mosaic will work with the City of Toronto to restore all of the trees removed with new, high-quality trees to restore the streetscape. Landscape design for the Finch West LRT project will incorporate new trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses. There will also be space for bike lanes and a new multi-use path.

What is now a construction landscape along Finch Avenue West will soon start to take shape, giving a new refresh to the LRT line.

Erika D’Urbano, Metrolinx senior advisor, Rapid Transit