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Thank goodness all that maundering about the future of the city is over with and council can get back to important business - such as the future of two black walnut trees thriving in a Scarborough yard, the owners of which have applied to cut down said trees.

Having refused the same request three times already, council was naturally eager to devote a few hours to the fourth request, this one based on the claim that falling walnuts were endangering the children who played beneath the trees.

"Walnuts do fall," parks czarina Brenda Librecz solemnly informed council, beginning thoughtfully with elemental concepts, "and they certainly do cause a little bruise."

Ouch! "But the risk," Ms. Librecz went on to assure nervous public guardians, "is manageable."

"Are legal staff aware of any lawsuits resulting from injuries caused by falling walnuts hitting either children or seniors?" asked Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, cross-examining on behalf of the threatened trees.

"People have been hit with falling walnuts, yes," Ms. Librecz admitted. "But," she added, repeating the essential assurance, "it is a manageable situation."

City bankrupt, staff say. But falling walnut risk "manageable." You'd think that would be a good enough headline, but Toronto councillors were determined to dig deeper.

"These walnuts that fall," Councillor Gloria Lindsay-Luby said, her eyes narrowing with penetrating insight, "are they edible?"

"I believe they are, yes," Ms. Librecz replied.

"So you could gather them and maybe put them in a salad?" the politician queried.


The impact of this revelation was such to throw the entire council into disarray, forcing Speaker Sandra Bussin repeatedly to demand order before Ms. Lindsay-Luby could resume her inquiries.

"I get calls from people who want to chop down Austrian pine trees because pine cones fall and they say it's dangerous," she said. "Do you think pine cones are dangerous?"

"Well, no," Ms. Librecz replied. "Apples fall too, and I guess that's where Newton discovered his, errr...."

Impatient with the halting physics lessons, Ms. Linday-Luby forged ahead. "And with pine cones, you can actually gather them up and make Christmas displays, right?"

"Absolutely!" Ms. Librecz again replied. "Our responsibility is to protect the tree coverage in the city and we certainly try to do proper due diligence around the issues people raise."

But what about leaves? "Have we had any concerns about leaves falling?" the dogged Etobicoker asked.

Order, please. Councillor Doug Holyday has the floor - and somebody must pay.

"You, Councillor Lindsay-Luby," he spat, "you talk about nut salad. Perhaps you've had one too many!"

More order, please.

"I'll withdraw that," the former mayor of Etobicoke apologized. "I'm sorry I mentioned about Councillor Lindsay-Luby's NUT SALAD!"

"This is such an important debate," Councillor Karen Stintz pronounced.

"I'm just trying to avoid the issue of injured children," tree-slaying Councillor Chin Lee declared.

Don't laugh, Councillor Mark Grimes added. "Being an owner of a house that had a black walnut in the backyard I can tell you it is a dirty, dirty tree, and the walnuts come down like bombs."

Typically, Mayor David Miller wiggled his way out of the controversy, scuttling off while walnut bombs exploded all about him, disappearing into his inner sanctum.

And that's what happened yesterday.