The goal to plant one million more trees in Winnipeg over the next two decades is expected to cost $43 million and require 50,000 new trees each year, according to a city report.

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This article was published 5/2/2020 (437 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The goal to plant one million more trees in Winnipeg over the next two decades is expected to cost $43 million and require 50,000 new trees each year, according to a city report.

The report notes partnerships and fundraising efforts will be key to meeting that target.

"The city does not currently have (the) capacity or resources to plant 50,000 trees per year; building this capacity will take up to five years and will involve establishing agreements with stakeholders, arranging for nurseries to establish their supply, and determining how best to educate and involve the public," David Domke, Winnipeg’s manager of parks and open space, writes in the report.

In December, Domke told media the cost to plant each tree could range from $5 to $750, depending on the type and size.

Mayor Brian Bowman first announced the reforestation goal in September, with a target to plant the trees by the time Winnipeg’s population reaches one million people, which is expected around 2040.

Lisa Jones, a program director for Trees Winnipeg, told council’s protection, community services and parks committee the work is desperately needed to restore a damaged urban canopy.

"Winnipeg’s urban canopy is in crisis. Each year, we lose thousands of trees, as Dutch elm disease hits us with increasing incidence … Then, October’s unprecedented (snow) storm destroyed and damaged tens of thousands of trees across Winnipeg," said Jones.

She added that tree planting is increasingly viewed as a key step to combat climate change, since trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Jones said that’s why many countries are now working on reforestation efforts. 

But Winnipeg’s attempt to do the same won’t come cheap. 

Domke predicts the city will have to fundraise more than $2 million per year to achieve the goals of its so-called One Million Tree Challenge, after securing $1.25 million of donations so far. 

On Wednesday, the protection, community services and parks committee approved a $140,000 grant to Trees Winnipeg to co-ordinate the campaign from now on, pending council approval. 

Coun. Sherri Rollins, who chairs the committee, said the steep price tag shouldn’t stop the strategy from moving forward. 

Rollins said the tree canopy is one of the top five issues she’s received feedback from constituents on, with many volunteering to assist with the planting and/or expressing support for new investments. 

"I’m well aware that this is a very large priority for Winnipeggers … Winnipeggers prize their urban forests and their tree canopy," she said. 

The planting strategy aims to eventually include a dedicated web site that features a "tree counter" to track each time the city, a Winnipegger or an institution registers a new tree planting on their property. 

The city’s plan also aims to ensure a tree survival rate of 75 per cent at year three, provide tree planting education, support natural tree regeneration and preserve existing trees. 

Council is slated to weigh in on the plan later this month, which would also see annual updates on the planting begin in 2021.

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

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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