Trees not only provide a beautiful landscape in any season, but have numerous other benefits to humans, wildlife and the planet overall.
By Lori Larsen
During the October 16 City of Camrose Committee of the Whole meeting, Camrose Green Action Committee chairperson Rob Hill presented a recommendation, on behalf of CGAC, for council to consider adopting the CGAC’s proposal to increase the City’s urban tree inventory.
In explaining the importance of trees to any community, Hill provided examples of other municipalities that are actively pursuing plans to increasing tree inventory.
“Of all the things we (as a City) can do (facing the impact of climate change), the least expensive, least controversial, most effective, with most residents’ support, is to increase our local tree inventory,” noted Hill, in his report to council. “Camrose would not be alone in such a goal. Many communities, including Calgary and Edmonton, are already well into ambitious tree planting campaigns. Edmonton’s goal is to plant 2 million trees by 2025. Using a per capita based comparison, that is like Camrose planting 40,000 trees in the same period. We are not hearing significant complaints from residents in Calgary or Edmonton.”
The following includes the steps of the plan for increasing tree inventory in Camrose provided in the report from the CGAC to council:
1. CGAC will work in cooperation with the Parks Department to identify specific tree planting projects. Some projects might be small scale, such as five street trees where none now exist, or the replacement of a number of trees in an older neighbourhood. Other projects could be of a larger scale, such as thousands of trees along Camrose Drive, as well as the possibility of one or more community orchards.
The size and type of tree will vary, depending on what is appropriate for the project. The project will consider the concerns raised during the recent Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment in terms of appropriate tree species selection.
2. The next step would be to determine a cost of the projects. This would include the cost of purchasing the trees, planting the trees, as well as the required maintenance. Cost of projects will vary depending on the type and size of trees considered appropriate as well as the location of the planting.
3. Next would be to seek out corporate partners who would be willing to donate the funds to support one or more of the projects.
4. Based on the number of projects identified to have corporate funding, the number of hours of labour required for the planting and maintenance can be calculated. The number of summer students needed to be hired to complete that work can then be determined.
5. The report included other points to consider. Arrangements with corporate partners have happened in the past. CN Rail provided $50,000 for the City to plant trees near the 50 Street parking lot at the start of the cross country trails. Re/Max provided the money for two trees and a bench in the same area. Home Hardware and Tree Canada provided the money to plant trees around soccer fields.
Hill provided information on the benefits of increasing urban tree inventory, based on a St. Albert example, as well as other points he provided:
- climate control and energy savings;
- improvement of the air, soil and water quality;
- provision of wildlife habitat;
- increase real estate value with community vitality;
- vegetation increases the health of pollinators;
- trees increase biodiversity;
- and mental and physical health benefits.
Hill’s report provided examples of two potential projects the City could consider for increasing tree inventory for Camrose.
The first involved replacing two elm trees on Main Street at an approximate cost of $2,872.
The second involved planting 540 balsam poplar seedlings along Camrose Drive at a cost of $2,800.
“This price assumes resident volunteers to plant and no maintenance other than watering,” said Hill, in his report. “It is not a bad thing to give residents a chance to contribute to City tree planting. If summer students are used for planting instead of resident volunteers, the cost would increase.”
Hill also suggested allowing the suckers that sprout out from the balsam poplars along the south berm path of Camrose Drive, to thrive.
“These are trees we could get without having to pay anything to get the trees, anything to plant them and without having to maintain them at all, because the mother plant is supporting them until they can take care of themselves.”
Hill suggested, as part of this idea, not mowing around the area where the trees and subsequent suckers are growing.
In summary, Hill said, “Of all the things that Camrose can and will be doing over the coming years to adapt to our changing climate, increasing our local tree inventory is the least expensive and least destructive policy we can adopt.
“The sooner we get at it the better.”
The Committee of the Whole Council accepted this report for information and directed Administration to work with the Camrose Green Action Committee to bring recommendations for next steps to a future Council meeting for further consideration.
During the October 30 City of Camrose regular council meeting, administration presented two options for Council to consider regarding the October 16 proposal by the CGAC.
Council agreed by way of a motion to proceed with Option 2 which included the following:
Direct Administration to work with CGAC to create detailed project plans for specific tree planting projects. These plans would include estimates of all costs including those costs associated with the initial care of the trees.
Authorize CGAC to seek conditional commitments for corporate funding on behalf of the City for these conceptual tree planting projects. Draft funding agreements would be provided / managed by Administration.
And once conditional commitments for funding have been obtained, these individual projects would then be presented to Council for approval.
During the November 20 City of Camrose Regular Council meeting, Council approved Administration, on behalf of the Camrose Green Action Committee, to apply for a Tree Canada Grant of up to $10,000 in order to fund the Camrose Green Action Committee’s proposal to plant 1,080 small trees along the west berm of Camrose Drive.