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Torontonians are trying to raise money to save the city’s oldest tree

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A group of Toronto residents is trying desperately to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to save a tree that is older than the country of Canadaitself.

By December of this year, $430,000 needs to be raised in order for the city to salvage the red oak, which is at least 250 years old — some predict closer to 370.

The basement of the house on the property at 76 Coral Gable Dr., near Weston Rd. and Sheppard Ave., poses a threat to the health and growth of the tree’s root system.

Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign Chairman Mark Cullen told Ben Mulroney on CTV News’ Your Morning today that Mayor John Tory is in favour of purchasing the home so that the tree can be removed and the soil remediated to “create an environment that will allow this tree to live for another couple of hundred years.”

City council did vote to take steps toward acquiring the property to save the tree in 2018 due to its size and “cultural significance,” but the plans were abandoned early last year after city staff and the property owner were unable to come to an agreement on the sale.

The tree has been recognized with a Heritage Toronto plaque, but not much else has come of the situation, though the city has asked the public to donate to the cause.

Cullen adds that Urban Forest Innovations, a local arboriculture company, has deemed the tree in good health and predict it could survive for decades to come — that is, in the right environment.

“The city can’t afford to save every heritage tree,” Cullen said in the interview this morning. “But when the citizens step to the plate… we suddenly have the city’s attention.”

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