Ontario town to look at creating Urban Forestry Plan
October 2, 2023 By Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Ontario’s Town of Essex will look at creating an Urban Forestry Plan
At the September 5 meeting, Deputy Mayor Rob Shepley brought forward a Notice of Motion – which was discussed on September 18 – which asked Council to direct Administration to seek pricing and present at the 2024 Budget Deliberations an “Urban Forestry Plan” within the Town of Essex urban centres.
This plan is to evaluate existing inventory of Town-owned trees, to provide maintenance recommendations on existing trees – including those that may be unsafe – and to provide strategic recommendations on locations where additional trees can be placed throughout the municipality.
Council passed the motion.
Councillor Jason Matyi said he loved the idea, however, he noted there are trees on town-owned properties in rural areas that need to be looked at. He asked if there was an appetite to expand the scope to be municipal-wide.
Director of Community Services, Jake Morassut, said Administration could look at that. He suggested prioritizing urban centres, where there is a higher concentration of people. Perhaps is could be looked at being completed over two or three phases, as an inventory of trees needs to be completed first.
Mayor Sherry Bondy suggested that perhaps Administration can present options at budget time. She believes the intent of the motion is that there were so many storms recently, and assessing town-owned trees needs to be done.
Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais asked about the Town’s arborists and how this work would relate to those positions.
Morassut noted the Town’s arborists are busy and concentrates on parkland spaces in regards to trees. They do not have the capacity to look at the entirety of the urban spaces or municipality-wide. He noted the Town would look to contract this out to a tree company, or a contract employee, that specializes in this work. Staff is still working to get the cost and determining the best approach.
Councillor Rodeny Hammond wondered if this could be expanded to include trees on private property, as there are many trees in Harrow being neglected by homeowners.
CAO Doug Sweet explained the Town does not have the resources, and that is the responsibility of the homeowner. If a tree is dead and there is concern, the By-Law Department could look at the matter.
Sylene Argent is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Essex Free Press.
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