Sackville by-election candidates weigh in on planting, protecting and preserving town trees

Main St. looking south toward the university from Wright St. This is one of five photos showing lost trees that Kevin Anderson sent to the municipal by-election candidates

Four of the five candidates running for a seat on town council have responded positively to the idea that Sackville should take more action to protect, preserve and replace its trees.

In an e-mail to the candidates, Kevin Anderson, who runs Woodpecker Tree Care, said he has conducted surveys showing that since 2002, “an alarming number of trees have been lost” in Sackville.

He adds that the trees, part of the town’s urban forest, have fallen victim to Dutch elm disease, old-age, storms, development and civic improvements such as sidewalk and street widening as well as sewage upgrades.

Anderson’s e-mail asks the candidates if they’re elected, how they would work with him and others to better inform themselves about the loss of trees and how they would have council and staff actively work toward renewing and improving the urban forest.

“In addition,” he asks, “would you, as councillor, support a yearly budget earmarked for tree planting to allow us to maintain and improve our immediate local environment for the future?”

To read, Kevin Anderson’s complete e-mail to the candidates, click here.

Note: Anderson asked the candidates for permission before sending their answers to The New Wark Times. (He sent them in the order he received them.)

Another photo that Kevin Anderson sent to the candidates showing tree loss

Sabine Dietz

Candidate Sabine Dietz responded that she expressed her concern to town council in writing recently about the loss of the birch trees in the Lafford apartment development on the former United Church property; that she also spoke with former Councillor Megan Mitton about the need for a by-law to replace lost trees; and, that she has talked with staff and councillors over the last few years about improving tree cover to reduce the risk of flooding especially in an era of climate change.

She added that “maintaining biodiversity in communities is essential. That includes reducing asphalted surface in favor of permeable surfaces, more trees, more green spaces that are not lawns,” she wrote.

“Trees reduce heat islands in towns and cities, contribute to water retention, and slow down rain as it hits the ground, and thus they help reduce the eroding impacts from heavy rainfall events,” her e-mail says.

Dietz suggests enacting a by-law requiring the replacement of any lost trees in developments; developing an urban forestry plan to increase the number of trees and green spaces as well as public education about the many benefits of trees and green spaces.

To read Sabine Dietz’s complete e-mail response, click here.

Dylan Wooley-Berry

Dylan Wooley-Berry wrote that he supported the idea of improving Sackville’s urban forest and that if elected, he would pursue it after conducting his own research and seeking information from community members, town officials and experts.

“Off the top of my head, it would seem reasonable to enact a ‘one-down, one-up’ policy, where if a tree on town land needed to be cut down, the town would automatically plan to plant a replacement in the general area,” he writes.

“I think one of the things that makes Sackville such a special town is the remarkable natural beauty that surrounds it and exists within it,” Wooley-Berry adds. “I believe that the town has a responsibility to protect and conserve it. This is why I have been critical of town council’s decision to allow development to creep towards the waterfowl park.”

To read Dylan Wooley-Berry’s complete e-mail, click here.

Brian Neilson

Candidate Brian Neilson’s e-mail says he remembered Kevin Anderson’s presentation to town council a couple of years ago about the need for an annual tree planting program. Neilson adds that it makes sense to “plant and wait,” rather than to “wait and plant.”

“My interest would be to plant native species and I have an aversion to monoculture,” Neilson writes.

“I don’t know of a specific mechanism as such right now that would seek out stakeholder input but I would be happy to incorporate an urban forestry line item into future town budgets,” he adds. “I think that gas tax rebates for instance would be a good source of funds for the ongoing project and would work to alleviate the impact of emissions on our common future.”

Neilson writes that although it can be difficult for some residents to understand the aesthetic and environmental benefits of investing in trees, it’s still worth working for “even if we need to articulate it as a part of a flood mitigation strategy.”

To read Brian Neilson’s complete e-mail, click here.

Shawn Mesheau

Candidate Shawn Mesheau wrote his research showed that trees provide many benefits including health, relaxation and well-being while preventing soil erosion, providing shade, reducing wind speeds and noise pollution and attracting businesses and tourists.

Mesheau writes he believes in a balanced approach to ensuring the town continues to flourish. He suggests that since all sectors benefit from trees, it would be good to ensure that tourism and other businesses work with environmentalists and residents on improving urban forestry.

“What I would think would be appropriate is for the community, calling upon sectors, to become the catalyst to coming up with a plan on improving our urban forest,” he adds. “Look into what other communities are doing and finding means to financially support efforts with the town helping when called upon.

“We all have a role to play in funding this, municipal, provincial, federal, community. What an ‘advisory committee on urban forests’ could do is pull together a plan, break it down into maintaining the health of trees, replacing trees and ensuring that urban forestation is part of planning development,” Mesheau writes.

To read Shawn Mesheau’s complete e-mail, click here.

In an e-mail to Warktimes, Kevin Anderson writes that candidate Julia Feltham “sent a short response from a seminar and will try to send more soon.”

To read coverage about the town’s tree planting program in 2016, click here.

One notable photo of lost trees near Exit 506 that was not distributed to the candidates

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2 Responses to Sackville by-election candidates weigh in on planting, protecting and preserving town trees

  1. Rima Azar says:

    Is this genuine or just virtue signalling :)? If we assume it is genuine, well said everyone.

    I like the point about balance in Mr. Mesheau’s email, even if all our candidates’ texts are reassuring.

    This year, one of the birch trees in our backyard died and had to be cut, at least partly. I found myself quite disturbed when we noticed its death, especially after I read that the average lifespan of those beautiful trees is about 150 years (some up to 300 years under optimal conditions)…. well, I guess trees die (even without a particular disease) just like us after all and that’s fine… as that’s life.

    Like

  2. Louis says:

    As one can see in this photo of downtown Beirut during the civil war:

    trees and vegetation are quite resilient and thrive when they’re not actively fought against.

    Trees are growing nicely in the ruins of Detroit, as well:
    http://www.sweet-juniper.com/2009/07/feral-houses.html

    Singapore also has a surprising number of trees, despite its high population density and vibrant economy. It is known as the Garden City.
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/urban-expeditions/green-buildings/green-urban-landscape-cities-Singapore/

    One can thus see that tree growth can be either the product of extreme neglect, or of deliberate planning.

    I *hope* that if we get more trees, it will come with Singapore-style growth, rather than Detroit-style decay.

    Like

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