Metrolinx pauses Osgoode Hall tree removal as Ontario law society waits for court to consider injunction

Metrolinx says it has agreed to temporarily pause tree removal work at Osgoode Hall Saturday morning, ahead of a court hearing initiated by the Law Society of Ontario.

“Following the hearing, we look forward to proceeding to get this critical transit line built,” said a statement from Metrolinx, noting it’s met with the law society 17 times prior to removal work.

Metrolinx’s move comes after it’s already been seen removing parts of centuries-old trees at Osgoode Hall Saturday morning, despite the law society requesting an injunction to stop them from doing so. The society operates out of Osgoode Hall, along with the province’s highest court, the court of appeal.

Wynna Brown, spokesperson for the law society, said on Friday night its lawyers have filed an application with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and made a request for an urgent case conference meeting as soon as possible about construction work by Metrolinx at Osgoode Hall.

The court hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday. But workers were seen removing the first limbs hours before, around 9:15 a.m. 

The move is the latest in a months-long dispute between advocates and city councillors opposed to the provincial regional transit agency’s plan to uproot at least five historic trees from the heritage property to make way for the future Osgoode Station, as part of the Ontario Line.

Protestors gathered Friday night in a community vigil in support of the green space, where they demanded meaningful consultation from Metrolinx. The protesters said they were there to protect the trees that have weathered more than 200 Toronto winters.

Before Metrolinx’s move to temporarily cease tree-cutting operations, the Build Ontario Line Differently (BOLD) Coalition, which represents communities affected by Ontario Line work and are opposed to how Metrolinx is conducting it, condemned the move.

“Despite an injunction being filed, Metrolinx quickly ramped up its plan to remove the trees – contracting tree companies and site prep companies. Metrolinx is racing to beat the court’s decision,” reads their statement on Saturday.

The coalition is seeking to get more time from the province’s regional transit agency to consider a third-party review, overseen by the city. It found while the Osgoode Hall station placement worked best for commuters, a site at the nearby Campbell House could potentially work as an alternative and could benefit from further analysis.

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