Petition update

Don't cut down the Centenary Elm on Parliament Hill!

Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital

Mar 5, 2019 — 

1.       Time is of the essence if we want to save the elm tree from destruction. We are calling on Members of Parliament and Ministers responsible for departments involved in the renovations to Centre Block to cancel any plans to destroy the elm tree in the near future. The project team for the Centre Block rehabilitation project for wants to cut the tree down before its sap begins to rise in March—so it can be turned into a wooden sculpture! We are committed to seeing it continue to thrive in a place of prominence as a carbon-sequestering example of green heritage on Parliament Hill. Sign our petition if you agree!

2.       During our Feb. 26 meeting with Jennifer Garrett, project director for the Centre Block renovation, we learned about plans to construct a grandiose underground Visitor Welcome Centre exactly where the elm tree and 25 other trees currently grow. We question the need for this Visitor Centre. We recognize the irony at play — the federal project design aims to protect the heritage profile and character of Centre Block building by putting the new visitor centre underground, while the same plan sacrifices living heritage that now occupies this territory. Our coalition is writing to the House of Commons committee that oversees the Centre Block reno, to the Speakers of the House and Senate, to the Minister of the Environment (in whose riding Parliament sits), and to other Members of Parliament to ask that them to push the “PAUSE” button on this mammoth earth-moving project. It is not yet costed out or fully developed. Changing the plan is possible. Sign our petition if you agree!  

3.       We are disappointed that the National Capital Commission’s Feb. 21 response to our requests  for information on the elm tree’s health were completely ignored.  Instead, the head of the NCC, which maintains all trees on Parliament Hill, told us he agrees with the removal of the tree. We think it’s not okay to decide that the visitor centre trumps trees. We are therefore calling on the Minister responsible for the NCC (Hon. Pablo Rodriguez, Minister, Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism) to 1) protect the elm tree as a symbol of Canada’s natural heritage, 2) conduct a user experience survey that asks Canadians whether they want an underground Visitor Centre as part of Centre Block’s 13-year renovation or whether they prefer to protect existing trees greenery for the next 13 years, and 3) consult with the Minister of the Environment (responsible for Parks Canada) to craft a joint response to the global climate emergency in a way that honours and safeguards the only large trees remaining on Parliament Hill. The choice is simple: an underground burrow that will cost millions of dollars or celebration of an elm tree that is a symbol of Canada’s commitment to fighting climate change. Sign our petition if you agree!  

The following groups are now supporting our petition:  Ecology Ottawa; The Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club; Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES).

Visit our website for full details on recent developments. 

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