By Jessica Lovell
Neighbours are sad to see the trees gone from the front yard of a historic property on Delhi Street, but they are resigned to the situation and happy to know the yard won’t become a parking lot.
“It was sat to see the trees go,” neighbourhood resident Jason Blokhuis said in an email. “But everyone also agreed that a front yard restored to its original condition, landscaped with trees and green space and a cobblestone walk, is much, much better than a front yard covered with tarmac and cars.”
This is more or less the plan for the property at 55 Delhi St., which is being converted into condominium units by Vesterra Property Management.
“We are thinking about a tree-lined (starting with six- to 12-foot-tall trees), stone-cobbled walkway, pillars at the entrance with either mature bushes and/or a black iron fence around the building,” said Vesterra president Robert Eilers in an April email to neighbours.
The email was written to inform neighbourhood residents of the need to remove trees and bushes from the property.
He reassured residents of Vesterra’s intention to replace the trees “with a beautiful aesthetic landscape that a spectacular building of this age deserves,” he said.
The century-old building was originally a nurses’ residence for the nursing school at the Guelph General Hospital, and more recently it housed offices for Family and Children’s Services.
Vesterra’s plan to restore it and convert it to condos ran up against some opposition from neighbours when they learned the company was considering providing parking in front of the building. But this issue was largely resolved when the company was given the option to purchase space for parking at the rear of the building from city-owned 65 Delhi St.
“We all opposed the earlier proposal to remove the trees to build a parking lot, but for most people, myself included, the parking lot was a bigger issue than the loss of the trees,” said Blokhuis.
The trees on the property were less than 50 years old “and many of them were overgrown or in bad shape,” he said.
They were in worse shape after this year’s harsh winter, said Eilers in an email to city council.
“Three of the trees had their trunks split, and one of the large spruces had a major branch come down which took out a section of the core trunk,” he said.
The trees were a health and safety issue and a liability issue and had to come down, he said.
By Jessica Lovell