I am pleasantly surprised by how many people in Ward 12 have our trees or “urban canopy” as a priority. The comments range from the lack of care and watering to a strong desire to see more trees planted.
The City has been finding places to cut the budget and our trees have taken on some of that impact. For example, The City used to be more involved in paying for injections for our Elm trees that are fighting a common condition called European Elm scale. Elms can get a tiny parasite that feed on the sap of a tree and also rain down tiny droplets of the sap that can coat cars, sidewalks and even you when you are out for a walk. The treatments cost $150-200 dollars and that has some residents feeling abandoned if they are on a corner lot with 6-8 of these trees right around them.
I have to admit that the difference of door knocking in Seton or Cranston’s Riverstone is drastically different than McKenzie Towne. The canopy in McKenzie Towne provides ample shade and lowers the temperature where the lack of canopy in newer neighbourhoods leaves you exposed and you feel like you are walking in a desert. Our trees do a lot for us. Trees have a huge impact on protecting us from the heat and therefore directly impacting the costs to cool our homes. This would have barely registered for Calgarians in previous years but with the summer we are having, it is revealing itself as a priority for our City as much as other municipalities.
There are studies from other municipalities that show a nearly three to one return on value for each dollar spent on urban canopy due to storm water management, air quality, energy savings and carbon sequestration. Calgary is already committed to investing in our Urban Canopy and I will be looking to protect that investment and also working to find ways to ensure our trees get the proper care and attention to ensure future generations enjoy a healthy canopy here in Calgary. The $2.5million dollar budget increase is a great start but I would be advocating for doubling that investment $5million to ensure that our trees get the proper care and we aren’t wasting our money.