City seeks green for Broadway trees

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A new proposal aims to secure federal cash to ensure a healthy canopy on Broadway.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/10/2021 (302 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A new proposal aims to secure federal cash to ensure a healthy canopy on Broadway.

The city’s public service wants cash from the federal Natural Infrastructure Fund to support a Trees on Broadway project, pending council approval.

Some of the iconic American elms planted along Broadway in the early 1900s have died from environmental stress and disease, which led to replanting in conditions that don’t support healthy long-term growth, a city report notes.

MIKE SUDOMA / Winnipeg Free Press Broadway's tree line is due for a refresh according to a new city report which calls for Winnipeg to apply for federal natural infrastructure funds to replace trees that have fallen victime to stress and disease.

Any further losses would be significant, it adds.

“Due to the area’s age, historic significance and prominent location, the elms along Broadway hold special significance for Winnipeg residents and visitors,” the report states.

If approved, the project would replace some concrete with a modular suspended pavement system, which is expected to cost from $3 million to $6 million. The suspended pavement would still support weight but also offer underground space for soil to assist tree growth and help store rainwater.

If the application is granted, Ottawa could cover up to 60 per cent of the cost.

Emma Durand-Wood, a volunteer advocate with Trees Please Winnipeg, said the proposal “thrilled” her group, since it could create a model to add trees throughout the city centre.

“You picture the trees when you think of Broadway but, (in) the rest of the downtown, there’s so much concrete and so little green space… this could be great if they’re going to start to revitalize the canopy in this area,” said Durand-Wood.

It’s difficult to grow trees downtown due to a lack of quality soil and moisture control, the city says. Trees lack room to grow or can be damaged by construction projects and winter deicing chemicals. They become more vulnerable to insects and disease.

Council’s public works chairperson said the proposal would help to ensure future tree planting offers the best chance for the new trees to thrive, despite those challenges.

“This soil technology is more expensive but it also means healthy trees that will survive our snow management program (and deicing salts). I think this is a great opportunity,” said Coun. Matt Allard.

The city hopes to save money by timing the work to coincide with Broadway street renewal planned for 2023. The report notes doing so would extend that one-year construction project to two years, which would require provincial approval. (That permission is needed because the province has set a deadline of Oct. 30, 2023, for its portion of the road renewal funding.)

However, the timing proposed to add the new suspended pavement is the most cost-effective option, said Allard.

“(These) technologies require you to do substantial modifications to the street, so the best time to do that is when you’re actually doing a renewal of the streets… It opens the opportunity to plant more trees as part of road renewals because it reduces the cost,” he said.

To qualify for federal funding, the city must apply by Oct. 30.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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