On Saturday morning, April 15, a group of artists and tree-loving environmental activists gathered near David Johnson Park, at the site of the future SkyDev development. In the bright sunshine and with a warm breeze off the bay, they hung a hand-painted ‘Caution Tape’ adorned with pieces of crochet, knitting, and art on the fence surrounding the construction site.
Until a few weeks ago, this site was the home of a small forest. The Caution Tape Project grew from a profound sense of grief due to the loss of this forest. A long campaign to encourage the developer to spare the trees, or at least some of the trees, was not successful. The Project was a collaborative effort, wherein people were encouraged to provide a piece, either knitted, crocheted, painted, woven, or sculpted, to be connected together to form a Caution Tape.
The message from the group is that urban forests are essential, that urban forests have value beyond what developers see as the land value. Urban forests must be protected, as valuable agents in the fight against climate change, to protect our air and our watershed, as homes for all the birds and bees and wildlife who play a role in our environmental balance.
Many municipalities are finding that this practice of clear cutting, as was done here in Meaford, is damaging their overall tree canopy. It is hoped that Meaford will adopt practices similar to other municipalities, such as Waterloo, to protect trees on lands to be developed. Another example is Collingwood, which is discussing policies to require developers to protect 30% of the trees on their properties.
The people behind the Caution Tape Project hope local politicians and residents will visit the site, view the work on the fences adjacent to David Johnson Park, read some of the inscriptions and give some thought to avoiding another mass clear cut in Meaford and the surrounding areas.