Tree-Gate, Christmas Tree, tree lighting ceremony, tree cutting bylaw, Kingston, OntarioWhile listening to CBC Radio on my walk to work this morning, our local corresponded, JC Kenny, mentioned an interesting story, which has received little attention from Kingston-based media outlets.  When I arrived at work, I mentioned the story on Twitter and humorously dubbed the affair, Tree-Gate.  Within minutes, I received numerous queries from followers, who requested additional information, and a link to the original story.  Unfortunately, my attempts to find a podcast of CBC’s  regional report have been unsuccessful, and further, I have yet to locate a transcript.  In case you missed this morning’s broadcast, or Kingstonist’s recount on Twitter, the following summary is described to the best of my memory, without any intentional exaggerations or falsehoods.

The scene was set in late November, just before Kingston’s annual Santa Claus Parade, and official tree lighting ceremony.  According to the report, Mayor Harvey Rosen was making his rounds and noticed that the Christmas Tree in Market Square was slightly damaged, and misshaped.  Since the tree lighting ceremony was fast approaching, City Hall set out to replace the tree as quickly as possible.  Their plea for a substitute was answered by the Springer family, who had a suitable, grandiose tree on one of their commercial properties.   Subsequently, the City’s second Christmas Tree was unceremoniously slaughtered, relocated and decorated for the big reveal behind City Hall.

The story’s big twist came as JC went on to speak with a few Kingstonians who advised that they were not pleased that the tree had been cut down.  Not only were neighbouring residents displeased with the new, tree-less look of the vacant commercial property, but they were also upset that the City of Kingston’s tree by-law was not respected.  As trivial as it may seem to some, apparently no one bothered to file the required application to cut down our donated Christmas tree.

On the one hand, the Springer family should be thanked for their continued generosity, and coming to the rescue on such short notice.  That said, why have these by-laws if City Hall isn’t willing to enforce them, and follow proper procedures.  What do you think?  Is Tree-Gate really a dishonest scandal, or a minor incident that is forgivable given the circumstances?  Special thanks to Unhindered by Talent for the original photo, which was remixed by Kingstonist for this post.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

7 thoughts on “Tree-Gate

  • It probably wouldn’t matter if it weren’t the Springers. Just add it to the list of by-laws they can break as a result of owning half the city.

  • Springer family generosity?? Please!

    This is all about token gestures in exchange for massive, massive taxpayer subsidies, sweetheart deals, and supine support on Council for everything and anything they petition-for.

  • Bylaw complaints are not just ignored in Kingston, it seems to happen throughout Ontario. Municipalities justify not having the time or resources to respond to all complaints or proactively inspect. What is the point of the bylaw if it is not enforced?

  • @ Will Slade.. I know, I guess I was just being naive hoping that a document that some people took hundreds of hours to write and pass through council would be useful. My bad.

  • I am shocked, shocked that a bureaucrat who would make a pointless law to waste our time do not respect their own stupid procedures. Shocked, and, appalled.

  • Not to mention the waste…what did they do with the old tree? They should just get a giant artificial tree. What’s the point of killing something that took years to grow to decorate the rink (or your home for that matter) for 3 weeks? And where’s the giant menorah?

  • The city should have spoken up and reminded them before the cut – if the city asked me, I would be assuming they were good with it, and had taken care of their own paperwork.

    Don’t know the Springers, maybe good maybe less so, but this one is the city’s own doing.

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