All Sections

December 10, 2019

Winnipeg
-24° C, Clear

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Community, residents groups support forestry budget

Groups across city calling for council to fully fund department

Lisa Forbes, a member of the Glenelm Neighbourhood Association (GeNA)’s tree committee, is pictured next to one of thousands of City-owned elm trees infected by Dutch elm disease. A coalition of community and resident groups are calling on the City of Winnipeg to provide more funding to the urban forestry department in the upcoming budget. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

SHELDON BIRNIE

Lisa Forbes, a member of the Glenelm Neighbourhood Association (GeNA)’s tree committee, is pictured next to one of thousands of City-owned elm trees infected by Dutch elm disease. A coalition of community and resident groups are calling on the City of Winnipeg to provide more funding to the urban forestry department in the upcoming budget. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

 

Community groups and neighbourhood associations across Winnipeg are speaking up for the city’s trees.
The coalition, which includes 22 groups — from Transcona to St. Vital, St. Matthews to South St. Boniface and neighbourhoods in between — are hoping to put pressure on the standing policy committee to increase the City’s forestry department’s budget for 2020 and beyond. 
"Over time the City has repeatedly cut for maintenance and tree disease management," said Lisa Forbes, a member of the Glenelm Neighbourhood Association (GeNA)’s tree committee, who is acting as a spokesperson for the ad hoc coalition. "Our trees are a capital asset worth $5.4 billion. You need to put in maintenance costs on that." 
Each year in Manitoba, approximately 10,000 elm trees are infected by Dutch elm disease, while the threat of the emerald ash borer and cottony ash psyllid, or jumping tree lice, threaten to wipe out the City’s ash population in the next 20 years. 
"Winnipeg’s urban elm forest, the largest in North America, is an irreplaceable and international treasure," Forbes said. "The time to act is now."
For every two trees lost, Forbes explained, the City has a budget to replace one. This past fall, GeNA’s tree committee received $53,000 in land dedication reserve funds to plant nearly 60 trees on boulevards in Glenelm in an effort to match the City’s effort replace the number of trees lost to Dutch elm disease in recent years. According to Forbes, the Armstrong Point Residents Association, the Wolseley Residents Association, and the Friends of Peanut Park group have undertaken similar projects recently, and that the Point Douglas Residents Committee is currently working towards a similar project.
"But (these) small project(s) are a lot of effort to administer, and a lot of money for what it took to do it," she said. "We wondered, how is this sustainable given the magnitude of this disaster we’re facing?"
This year, the urban forestry department’s budget was $4 million. A sticking point for the coalition members is a 2019 Parks & Open Space Division 2019 Preliminary Operating Budget presentation, wherein the department identified a shortfall of $7.61 million. 
OURS-Winnipeg (Outdoor Urban Recreational Spaces – Winnipeg), a city-wide, community-based green space advocate organization has posted a form letter online urging the mayor and city councillors to reinstate the shortfall, and commit the department’s funding through the four-year multi-year budget currently being considered by council. 
"October’s unprecedented storm displayed the challenges extreme weather can place on the urban forest and the need for its stable funding and care," Ronald Mazur, a spokesperson for OURS-Winnipeg, said in a statement.
"We don’t know what urban forestry is asking for (this year), but we’re saying at least give them what they didn’t get last year," Forbes added.
OURS-Winnipeg and the coalition of resident groups are asking residents to contact their city councillor, and to attend a public hearing on Nov. 27, where the urban forestry’s budget will be discusses.
"The point is we want community to stand behind trees," Forbes said.
To view or to sign OURS-Winnipeg’s letter, visit www.saveourcanopy.com 

 

Community groups and neighbourhood associations across Winnipeg are speaking up for the city’s trees.

The coalition, which includes 22 groups — from Transcona to St. Vital, St. Matthews to South St. Boniface and neighbourhoods in between — are hoping to put pressure on the standing policy committee to increase the City’s forestry department’s budget for 2020 and beyond. 

"Over time the City has repeatedly cut funds for maintenance and tree disease management," said Lisa Forbes, a member of the Glenelm Neighbourhood Association (GeNA)’s tree committee, who is acting as a spokesperson for the ad hoc coalition. "Our trees are a capital asset worth $5.4 billion. You need to put in maintenance costs on that." 

Each year in Manitoba, approximately 10,000 elm trees are infected by Dutch elm disease, while the threat of the emerald ash borer and cottony ash psyllid, or jumping tree lice, threaten to wipe out the City’s ash population in the next 20 years. 

"Winnipeg’s urban elm forest, the largest in North America, is an irreplaceable and international treasure," Forbes said. "The time to act is now."

For every two trees lost, Forbes explained, the City has a budget to replace one. This past fall, GeNA’s tree committee received $53,000 in land dedication reserve funds to plant nearly 60 trees on boulevards in Glenelm in an effort to match the City’s effort replace the number of trees lost to Dutch elm disease in recent years. According to Forbes, the Armstrong Point Residents Association, the Wolseley Residents Association, and the Friends of Peanut Park group have undertaken similar projects recently, and that the Point Douglas Residents Committee is currently working towards a similar project.

"But (these) small project(s) are a lot of effort to administer, and a lot of money for what it took to do it," she said. "We wondered, how is this sustainable given the magnitude of this disaster we’re facing?"

This year, the urban forestry department’s budget was $4 million. A sticking point for the coalition members is a 2019 Parks & Open Space Division 2019 Preliminary Operating Budget presentation, wherein the department identified a shortfall of $7.61 million. 

OURS-Winnipeg (Outdoor Urban Recreational Spaces – Winnipeg), a city-wide, community-based green space advocate organization has posted a form letter online urging the mayor and city councillors to reinstate the shortfall, and commit the department’s funding through the four-year multi-year budget currently being considered by council. 

"October’s unprecedented storm displayed the challenges extreme weather can place on the urban forest and the need for its stable funding and care," Ronald Mazur, a spokesperson for OURS-Winnipeg, said in a statement.

"We don’t know what urban forestry is asking for (this year), but we’re saying at least give them what they didn’t get last year," Forbes added.

OURS-Winnipeg and the coalition of resident groups are asking residents to contact their city councillor, and to attend a public hearing on Nov. 27, where the urban forestry’s budget will be discussed.

"The point is we want community to stand behind trees," Forbes said.

To view or to sign OURS-Winnipeg’s letter, visit www.saveourcanopy.com 

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community journalist — The Herald

Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at sheldon.birnie@canstarnews.com Call him at 204-697-7112

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us