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This article was published 21/8/2020 (391 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When neighbours band together, there’s no telling what the community can accomplish.
Bonnie Sheppard-Lewis, a resident of Noble Avenue in Glenelm, can attest to that.When she moved to the neighbourhood in 1999 with her husband, the couple began working with neighbours to band all the elm trees on their block each year.
"We we’re so impressed with the canopy when we moved here from Fort Garry," Sheppard-Lewis said. "We had a dog, so we were always out walking and talking to neighbours. We’d deliver flyers, try to get people involved."
Every year since, with a couple of exceptions when road work was taking place, Sheppard-Lewis has seen to it that the elm trees on her block have been banded.
Now, the whole neighbourhood is getting involved.
"When trees start getting lost, people start to take note," Sheppard-Lewis said.
The Glenelm Neighbourhood Association tree committee has been active in the neighbourhood for a number of years now, working to protect the area’s namesake elm trees and to promote species diversity.
"This is something that the community really wanted," explained secretary and tree committee member Mellanie Lawrenz. "It kept coming up."
However, Lawrenz said that while GeNA is helping to co-ordinate the current tree banding project, the iniative has been community led since the get-go.
"We just put a call out for neighbourhood volunteers and provided some options," Lawrenz said, adding that the efforts of Sheppard-Lewis has provided the example for other block captains to follow.
"Trees do so much for us," said Robyn Taylor who is helping coordinate banding efforts on Cobourg Avenue. "They’re so much a part of the community. It’s important to protect that."
Raised in Wolseley, Taylor said she fell in love with Glenelm when she moved to the neighbourhood a year and a half ago.
"There’s a real sense of community here that’s wonderful," she said. "This is a great way for me to be involved."
While tree banding doesn’t protect directly against Dutch elm disease, it can prevent the spread of canker worms, which weaken elm trees when they eat away at their leaves in the spring.
"Let’s protect these trees," Sheppard-Lewis said of her inspiration to band year after year. "If they’re weakened, they’re vulnerable."
"The most important message for tree banding is that it’s important to get the most trees possible," Taylor explained. "We’re trying to keep the worms from spreading across canopy, to help with overall health, to make sure they’re strong enough to fight diseases."
After some debate, it was decided that all the participating blocks will hire one company to do the banding, to save time and get a better rate. Taylor helped gather quotes from tree care companies, eventually settling on Schmidt Tree Banding to do the work.
"It’s encouraging to see that so many community members are excited about where they live," Lawrenz said. "The level of engagement has been so encouraging."
Fundraising and organizing of the project continues until Aug. 31, with banding to begin in the fall. Anyone interested in helping can email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Herald community journalist
Sheldon Birnie is the reporter/photographer for The Herald. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112