Urban Forestry on the Campus

Trees play an important role as a structural landscape design element, for shade, beauty and spatial definition. The original land grant for the University and the Ontario Legislature area maintained a semi-rural, treed landscape well into the 20th century. The designation of Queen's Park as a public park retained this strong landscape of deciduous trees. However, the tree pattern in the University area was modified after the turn of the century by several forces:

  • The topography and associated landscape of Taddle Creek and other treed areas of the campus were modified and used as building sites.
  • The treed landscape of the University and the Legislature was divided by the Queen's Park Crescent overpass at Wellesley Street.
  • Changes to the street system of the district to accommodate growing automobile use removed the mature street trees of St. George Street, Spadina Avenue, Hoskin Avenue, Harbord Street, Devonshire Place and University Avenue.
  • The growth of the University into the residential neighbourhood west of St. George Street in the 1970s removed much of the tree cover in this area.

Efforts to re-establish a street tree pattern on the West Campus have faced challenges. In the 1980s, the City of Toronto Arborist identified many potential locations for street trees; however, the installation of street trees was allowed in only a few of these locations under the standard approval process, which is driven by the setback requirements of underground infrastructure. In the case of the University, this infrastructure is abundant and includes a district energy supply system.

It is common throughout the City of Toronto to install street trees through a combination of the use of private land and the reconfiguration of below grade infrastructure. This was done during the recent rebuilding of St. George Street. Additional contemporary activities to increase the urban forest in the campus area have included several programs of tree planting, including the new streetscape on Spadina Avenue.

The reconnection of the primary open spaces of the campus will create one of the largest open spaces in the central city outside of the valley and ravine system. This land base creates an opportunity to develop a partnership between the University of Toronto Arboretum Committee, Facilities and Services Department, and the City of Toronto Arborist, to develop an urban arboretum with a focus on issues related to Ontario's urban landscape and the preservation and revitalization of large treed areas in the city.


38. The University, in partnership with the City of Toronto, should undertake an urban forest management plan for Queen's Park and the landscaped areas of the campus.

39. An aggressive tree planting program should be undertaken to include: Spadina Circle, Philosopher's Walk, Queen's Park, King's College Green, Hart House Green, the College Street streetscape and open spaces, the Back Campus and the streets of the Central and West Campus.

40. Special use landscapes and courtyards in the West Campus should be considered within the larger context of urban forest conditions in the district.

41. The range of plant material used on campus should be expanded to include native tree species that were present at the time of the University's original land grant.

42. Educational and interpretive programs should be undertaken to communicate issues related to urban forestry on the campus.

previous | next
Demonstration Site 1
Demonstration Site 2
Demonstration Site 3
Demonstration Site 4
Demonstration Site 5
Demonstration Site 6