Tree cleanup could take a year: city forester


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/10/2019 (1257 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Trees across Winnipeg took a beating when the city received an “unprecedented” amount of snowfall leading up to the Thanksgiving weekend.

Across Winnipeg, it is estimated that 30,000 trees on City property were damaged. At press time, the City did not have data available on how many trees were reported damaged within each City ward. A press release did note that core areas and mature neighbourhoods were at greater risk due to the size and age of the trees in those areas.

Even more trees on private property were damaged by the heavy snowfall, which weighed down branches of elm, ash, and other deciduous trees that had not yet lost their leaves in the fall.

“The timing of this storm has been significant, because a lot of our canopy was still in leaf,” said Martha Barwinsky, the City’s top forester, on Oct. 17. “So we had freezing rain on those leaves, creating heavier weight, coupling that with additional snow and high winds.”

As a result of the storm, approximately 7,000 city residents were also without power for periods of time over the Thanksgiving weekend, some for days.

On Oct. 15, Mayor Brian Bowman declared a local state of emergency, in part to allow the City “to gain access to private property in order to deal with public trees that have fallen onto private property, and private trees that have fallen onto public property.”

Communities in south-central Winnipeg were littered with fallen limbs and downed trees as the snow cleared and began to melt with warmer weather last week.

City crews were out in force in Earl Grey on Oct. 16, cutting down damaged and hanging branches from Jessie Avenue and tossing them straight into the chipper.

“We’ve got extreme, critical safety issues addressed on regional and collector streets, so now we’re moving into the second phase in addressing broken and hanging branches,” Barwinksy said.

“We estimate it will take approximately a year to clean everything up,” she added. “And then we’re looking at the recovery of our canopy as well, which could take up to five years to get these trees replaced, considering we have a lot of other trees to replace as well.”

In nearby Crescentwood, where neighbours planted 70 new trees this spring to make up for trees lost to disease, damage was severe but not catastrophic, said Charles Feaver.

Feaver is a member of the Friends of Peanut Park advocacy group and part of the group’s tree committee, which planted the new boulevard trees with financial support from city councillor John Orlikow’s office.

Those trees were mostly unharmed, Feaver said, and neighbours were out during the storm with brooms clearing snow from the leaves. They also assisted in clearing downed limbs in the streets and sidewalks where they could, he said.

“It was bad; there’s no doubt about it but we’re lucky it didn’t completely wreck anything,” Feaver said.

“There’s cleanup to do because a lot of the branches are torn off opposed to being pruned properly. We’ll see how that goes.”

In Peanut Park, along Ruskin Row, Feaver said the group may consider putting in more trees next spring, to make up for some of the loss.

“Some of the trees that we planted about 10 years ago, in the park, those are bigger and we had some problems there with branches getting torn off and losing the tops and such.”

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— with files from Danielle Da Silva

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. 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 Call him at 204-697-7112

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