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    Climbers' CornerTree Academy

    Toronto's New Soil and Tree-Based Standards for Boulevards


    In 2012, the city of Toronto adopted new standards for tree planting and sidewalk design for trees in the most densely developed areas of the city.  These new standards are based on the most current thinking on developing healthy trees in the most difficult areas on a major city.  The standards begin with setting new soil volume standards and seek to find solutions to the most difficult problems confronting trees in difficult spaces.  These are: providing adequate soil volumes; respecting the future growth of the trunk flare and zone of rapid root taper; getting water into and out of the soil; providing room for canopy development; and starting with quality nursery stock.  These standards had to negotiate the needs and conflicting goals of all city departments and Toronto’s numerous private utility companies.  The standards included developing new details for all aspects of the paving and features in the right of way.  Specifications for planting, soils and other critical elements were completely rewritten.  The project took almost two years to complete.


    The session will outline the basic requirements of the standards and how they meet the goals of both the tree and the other right of way requirements.  It will describe how the standards process changes the look and feel of the pedestrian environment that has been engineered with trees a high priority.  The difficult process of negotiating the standards thru the various city agencies, utility companies, private sector concerns and over coming political hurdles will be reviewed. 


    The new Toronto tree standards are not only an impressive accomplishment for this city, but can serve as a template for standards in other cities in Canada and the United States and developed cities around the world.

    Conference Proceedings Documents


    James Urban, FASLA, ISA

    Urban Trees + Soils, Annapolis, Maryland

    James Urban was a consultant to the Toronto Standards Development team.  He is a landscape architect who specializes in the design of trees and soils in urban areas.  His book Up By Roots: Healthy Soils and Trees in the Built Environment, published by ISA in 2008, is a significant reference for urban foresters, landscape architects, and planners, and it won an Honor Award from the ASLA. He is a frequent contributor to Arborist News and Landscape Architecture Magazine.


    Peter Simon

    Toronto Urban Forestry, Toronto, Ontario

    Peter Simon has been working in Urban Forestry for the City of Toronto for the last 10 years. The main focus of his work has been on improving the planting conditions for trees in hard surfaced urban areas. Peter is a graduate of the University of Toronto School of Architecture. His experience as an architect includes working on large commercial, institutional and residential projects. During his career as an architect Peter acted as a consultant for the City of Toronto at varying times for the Planning, Housing and Parks and Recreation Departments. He become involved with trees through building projects including the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and a number of City parks that required an engineered structure to support the conditions needed for trees to grow to maturity. Peter’s interest is the integration of trees within the city infrastructure, the integration of the urban forest into the built environment. His passion is cities and the dynamic processes that are involved in shaping them.

    Climbers' CornerTree Academy

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