Sparwood seeding urban forest growth

Sparwood residents have been putting forward the idea of a full planting and growing of the District’s urban forest.

Amur cherry and green ash trees were recently planted in the Cherrywood suburb in Sparwood.

While the District of Sparwood completed its first street tree project in 2008 and currently have plans to continue with partial planting, a group of residents living on Cherrywood Boulevard have been putting forward the idea of a full planting and growing of the District’s urban forest.

Megan Rawles, one of the Cherrywood Boulevard citizens who have spearheaded the street trees project, where they have sent a letter to Sparwood Council to “reconsider the limited planting of street trees on Cherrywood Boulevard.  As it currently stands, Council approved the street tree project in a limited fashion, by planting trees in locations where there is an existing house.”

The letter also went on to list several benefits of tree project, the first being, “The growth and maturity of the trees throughout the neighbourhood would occur at the same rate, and thus add to the aesthetics of the boulevard.” The second benefit according to the letter would be, “the planting of the trees would add value to the unsold lots as well as curb appeal to attract potential buyers.”

Nelson Wight, Manager of Planning for the District of Sparwood says the idea is in line with other initiatives to expand the District’s urban forest.

“We are going to be implementing an Adopt -a-Tree program whereby residents could apply for having a street tree in front of their house. We would provide the tree for free and then the homeowner would be watering it and caring for it until it gets fully established,” he said.

Rawles acknowledges city staff for all of their work so far.

“Council was prompt in not only addressing the issue but also in their decision and reply. For my part, I found the town staff easy to communicate with in relation to the planting locations and timing,” she said.

While the plan is not yet implemented, it is something that the District is working on to present to Council.

“We haven’t taken it to Council yet. It is something I’m going to be working on over the summer,” he said, adding there are multiple projects. “The fruit tree replacement program to hinder bear attractants, this would be giving a non-fruit bearing tree to a resident who requested they wanted to take out a fruit tree that they don’t want to care for anymore.”

There is also an Adopt-a-Tree program, where Sparwood residents can adopt a tree from the District and care for it on their own properties.

The overall plan will also include a standardized list of tree species available to residents.

“We would be defining all of that through the policy work that I am going to be defining. We would want to decide on what species of tree we would want. We would want a fairly good calibre,” said Wight.

So far, the District has used two types of trees and Rawles is happy to see them thriving.

“There were two varieties of trees planted, amur cherry and green ash. All the trees appeared to be in great condition when planted and were of a nice size. They are all doing well, I appreciate that the town took the time to fence and stake them off. I have also noticed that they are being watered regularly and as such are doing well,” she said.

According to Wight, budget is another thing that would be outlined when the project is presented to Council. Cherrywood’s 20 trees cost roughly $7,000 not including the hours it took for the public works crew.

“That would be set out in the policy. We have a certain number of trees that we could potentially budget each year. I want to say I’ve got $5,000 for both projects,” he said.

The neighbourhood-feel makes it all worth it for Rawles.

“From what I have heard from other Cherrywood Blvd. residents, they are happy with the full planting and as for my family we like the neighbourhood-feel that it gives to our boulevard,” she said.