Court decision is expected Friday on an injunction to stop the removal of Metrolinx trees at Osgoode Hall
Attorneys representing the Law Society of Ontario have presented their arguments in a virtual courtroom, explaining why the society believes the provincial Supreme Court should issue an injunction to prevent Metrolinx from launching a tree-cutting plan to continue at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.
The provincial transportation authority said the trees needed to be cut down so it could proceed with the next steps to build a subway station for the new Ontario line.
A restraining order issued by Judge William Chalmers last weekend expires at midnight on Friday.
Judge Charles Hackland heard arguments from the bar’s attorney on Thursday and will hear from attorneys for Metrolinx when the court resumes on Friday.
Linda Rothstein, an attorney representing the Bar Association, provided a detailed account of the group’s communications and meetings with Metrolinx as of Summer 2020.
She argued that over the past two and a half years, Metrolinx has chosen to provide limited information about its plans — and its justification for doing so — to the bar association and the public.
“A gem in town”
Rothstein said just last week the Metrolinx Bar Association heard there would be “unreasonable delays” to the project as a whole and significant financial penalties if the trees were not cut down immediately.
Rothstein called Osgoode Hall a “gem in the city” and argued that the historic value of the site – jointly owned by the Bar and the Province – must be viewed as a whole rather than as individual parts.
“This is a very, very serious invasion of treasure,” Rothstein said.
She said the Bar Association’s stance was that Metrolinx needed to meaningfully evaluate a third-party review examining tube stop options and at least seriously consider the viability of an adjacent site at Campbell House Museum.
One of the Bar Association’s other barristers, Mannu Chowdhury, said the society recognizes the importance of expanding and improving public transport, but added that choosing between heritage and protection is an “impossible choice”.
Both must not be played off against each other, but it must be possible to achieve both.
Metrolinx attorneys will present their arguments Friday at 9:30 a.m.
In addition to the bar association’s application, the Haudenosaunee Development Institute has also filed a separate application for an injunction. Justice Hackland will also be hearing from his attorneys on Friday.