My mother lost a good chunk of her Boxwood hedges too after this past winter.
I am still convinced it is the species, I have spoken with forestry and they have said the London Plans just aren't doing well in Toronto, walk anywhere around Toronto where they have planted London Plans (Widmer and Adelaide, Lake Shore and Ft. York etc).
Not true. Wellesley-Magill Park (off Homewood, between Sherbourne and Jarvis, North of Wellesley) is full of London Planes and almost all of them are doing very well. That said, they are not in an area that would be affected by salt treatment in the winter.
Maybe they should start using sand instead of salt. It's a lot better for vehicles, sidewalks, shoes/pants and the environment.
It's down right embarrassing.
Here are some pics i took a few weeks ago. I too was surprised how bad the trees looked.
Around the base of the trees was garbage and weeds, and those rusty steel grates look like they came from a scrap yard.
That's Corten steel. It's supposed to have the rusty orange patina for a dose of colour amidst all the black granite. Corten steel is a respectable material in contemporary urban design--though if used too liberally, it can result in overly harsh urban environments.
Pretty sure those grates are supposed to be that colour - they are a nice russet patina, which is how certain types of steel oxidize over time. Design Within Reach sells planters that look similar: http://www.dwr.com/product/planterworx-arena-rectangular-planters.do?sortby=ourPicks
The tree situation is... not good - but the planter grates (I assume) are meant to look like that.
Maybe they should ditch those ideas altogether and do what Oslo did. They installed heating pads throughout all downtown sidewalks. A study determined that it was cheaper to do that than pay for snow removal, pavement repair, and hospital bills due to falls. Of course it was a Scandinavian country rather than Canada that figured that out first.