Elm trees planted many years ago now stand tall along the streets of River Heights and form grand arches towering overhead. It is these grand arches that draw my attention as I walk in River Heights.
They are beautiful. They are functional. They provide shade in summer so that walking the streets is comfortable, even when it is very hot outside.
They provide shade, not just for walkers, but also for homes. Many homes in River Heights, including our own, do not have air conditioning precisely because the presence of these elms keeps our homes cooler.
In winter, the elms conveniently shed their leaves so we get more sunlight through our windows. Summer and winter, the elms provide living and perching spaces for birds. Many years we find robin and Cooper’s hawk nests and are charmed in spring by the singing of warblers and in winter by the antics of chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers.
As I walk down River Heights streets, most recently going door to door in the election campaign, I think of the foresight of those who planted these elm trees many, many years ago. Their grandeur today is thanks to the planning of those who lived almost 100 years ago. I believe we, too, must similarly plan well for the next 100 years.
This year, a number of trees on River Heights streets are marked red, the result of their becoming infected with Dutch elm disease. It is a reminder that we must do all we can to save these treasures and to preserve the wonderful arches that adorn our streets in River Heights.
Jon Gerrard is leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba and MLA for River Heights.