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Council to consider costs, options to ‘tree the County’

Council would like to expedite the planting of trees on public lands but must further examine several branches of logistics.

In two deputations at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Tree Policy Ad-Hoc Committee members Susan Banks and Lise Bois updated council on progress and presented an Adopt-a-Tree petition.

Tree planting, both noted, “is part of a climate change solution that is available now, and is the cheapest one possible.”

They also noted trees provide the cheapest benefit to the environment – protecting wildlife, combating flood risk, beautifying land and adding value to properties – and should be considered for public and private lands.

But there are costs the municipality must consider.

The committee suggests trees in urban centres and villages to benefit the greatest number of people. It shared a draft policy with several key requirements identified, including setting a budget aside for planting and maintenance; a staff person to take charge of the program; a database of trees for an effective maintenance program and a standing tree advisory committee to monitor the program and policy and to resolve tree issues.

“There is a cost associated with this demand,” Bois said, noting the committee would look into grants should the program be implemented.

Bois also noted the new draft tree policy will include a section on community involvement and presented a Adopt-a-Tree ‘petition’ of more than 100 names indicating interest to support tree planting by caring for any tree planted on their property for at least two years until it got established.

“These signatures were gathered from within our small groups and not the public at large. I think, if asked, many more would support the proposal.”

Councillor John Hirsch was among several councillors supporting the use of volunteers.

“The County’s old process of contracting for trees to be planted was an RFQ (Request for Quotation) which typically requires a guarantee by the contractor that the tree will live for two years which means that contractor would have to look after the tree, do the watering, etc., so typically the cost to the County on that basis was about $1,000 a tree for a 50mm caliper tree – which is an insane number. So if we can take that maintenance out, that’s a huge part of that $1,000.”

Councillor Bill Roberts noted the importance of volunteers in the County, but pointed out that “insurance providers are getting allergic to roles of volunteers and outside activities. As we look to transfer some of the municipal obligations to volunteers, it may well trigger additional insurance costs.”

Several councillors noted costs that would have to become part of the budget.

Councillor Jamie Forrester said council, in the coming budget, must make decisions about how much money it will spend to get serious about its declaration of a climate emergency situation and “put our money where our mouth is”.

“There’s lots of good ideas, but we’re going to have to get serious about this. We’re going to have to set aside a certain amount of money and how to use it best.”

Councillor Janice Maynard proposed council shows intention to expedite the planting of trees of public lands and that a staff report include considerations of volunteers and outside agencies, such as Quinte Conservation.

Speaking in the public comment portion of the meeting, Barry Davidson said he was pleased with what he had heard.

Speaking on behalf of the Wellington Rotary Club, Davidson reminded council the club upgraded a portion of the Millennium Trail a number of years ago, and now wants to add trees to the trail in memory of Rotary members who have died.

“We support the idea of planting trees and propose to do this at no cost to the County. I’ve taken over the project in the last few weeks, because Brian McGowan who started the project a year ago, unfortunately died in an accident at his house and now we have to plant a tree for him, too.”

Davidson said the club has about seven trees they want to plant but have been told by staff they didn’t have approval to give us the OK until they heard results from the Tree Policy Ad-Hoc Committee.

“I am glad to hear council wants to expedite the process. Rotary will pay for the trees, their installation, pay for an arbourist and pay to maintain the trees through the years so we have a successful plant,” said Davidson. “I look forward to getting the OK to go ahead as soon as possible.”

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  1. I urge Council to begin reforestation with Eastern red cedars [ERCs]. They’re not only indigenous, they’re endemic, which makes them a true heritage tree worthy of preservation and propagation in a County that publicly professes to value its heritage.
    ESRs live predominately in this part of North America. They created and sustain the natural communities that we can still find in undisturbed areas.
    There is an abundance of common oaks, maples, butternuts, hickory, pines, other cedars, etc..over many parts of the world, but ERCs are local beings. They thrive here because they’ve learned how to survive under some tough local conditions: ie: thin rocky soils, unreliable rainfalls, harsh winters, etc..They just hunker down, stop growing, and tough it out until times get better….sound familiar?

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    If the Liberals get re-elected, didn’t they say they wanted to plant 2 BILLION trees to help with the climate crisis? If a number of things happen, then the cost of these trees that council seems to be worried about, might come free from the feds!

  3. A tiny step in the right direction to correct, one of many colonial disasters perpetrated on indigenous Canada.
    Now let’s take on the racially hateful Indian Act that enslaved and abused Indigenous Canada and its lands in perpetuity.

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    This a great way to involve the entire community in an environmental effort. For years, many communities across the province took part in annual tree planting – from the Boy Scouts & Girl GUides, to service clubs. A lot of these organizations have their own insurance coverage, but that should not be a concern anyway – the planet goes on with or without insurance companies – we just want it to survive despite them. This would be a wonderful opportunity for both nurseries and business to join together to provide a good supply of CHEAP trees too! This is a very doable project of the will is there. Let’s hope it is.

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