To see which candidates responded and their answers click  here

GUFF Election 2014 Candidate Questions

Guelph Urban Forest Friends is a local group that advocates for better protection of urban trees and canopy. We make delegations to City Council, hold events to raise awareness about the importance of urban trees, and distribute information about the many benefits of and the threats to trees through our web site.

We have serious concerns about the continued loss of mature trees in our City and hear frequently from upset residents about tree removals. We are submitting these questions to candidates for City Council and respectfully request your response by September 16th. The responses we receive will be posted on our web site and e-mailed to our list of 500 supporters.

For further information, please check our website (www.guffguelph.ca) or contact us at guffguelph@gmail.com. Thank you for your response.

  1. GUFF is very happy that our new Forestry Manager is hired and running his department. But, the department does not have the full complement of staff. Our forest is both growing and ageing at a greater pace, placing more demands on the department. Will you support full funding for the Urban Forest Management Plan and the Arborist Crew in the next budget cycle? Why or why not.
  2. Shade is important for reducing the heat island effect and for reducing the risk of skin cancer. Will you support and advocate for establishing a shade policy which would set goals for shade coverage along streets/sidewalks, in parking lots and in parks? Why or why not.
  3. There is currently no recognition or protection of trees that are exceptionally large, old or have a significant history in the City. Will you support and advocate designating and protecting Heritage Trees? Why or why not.
  4. The City has begun an inventory of trees in our urban forest (species, size, health, etc.), but trees are not given value as “assets” or “green infrastructure.” Will you support and advocate for a comprehensive inventory of trees in the City that assigns a dollar value to the trees (using currently available computer programs that compute the dollar value of ecological services provided by trees)? This value would then be used in the assessment of the cost of proposed city projects. Why or why not.
  5. City Council passed a tree by-law in 2010 which requires permits for removing large trees on properties over half an acre in size (.2 ha). This tree by-law only covers about 6% of privately owned properties within the City. It does not cover city trees, institutional trees or the trees on small private properties where the majority of our urban forest exists. Will you support and advocate for expanding the existing tree by-law to cover all private properties in Guelph? Why or why not
  6. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation is now eating its way through our ash trees. The ash inventory is almost complete and an EAB plan has been adopted by council.  Do you support full flexible funding for this initiative so the amount of money needed for injecting, removing and replanting is available as needed in a timely manner? Why or why not.

 

 

  1. GUFF is very happy that our new Forestry Manager is hired and running his department. But, the department does not have the full complement of staff. Our forest is both growing and aging at a greater pace, placing more demands on the department. Will you support full funding for the Urban Forest Management Plan and the Arborist Crew in the next budget cycle? Why or why not.

Yes I will support the full funding of the management plan and hiring of the crew. Given the fact that our forests are aging and growing along with the unpredictable weather patterns, it’s important to plan for future replacement of our urban forests.

 

  1. Shade is important for reducing the heat island effect and for reducing the risk of skin cancer. Will you support and advocate for establishing a shade policy which would set goals for shade coverage along streets/sidewalks, in parking lots and in parks? Why or why not.

Yes I would support developing a shade policy especially in parking lots, parks and streetscapes. Shade is a vital to a healthy community both to the people that live here as well as other plants and ground cover.

 

  1. There is currently no recognition or protection of trees that are exceptionally large, old or have a significant history in the City. Will you support and advocate designating and protecting Heritage Trees? Why or why not.                  

I think it’s important to protect all of our cultural heritage including our older trees. There will have to be an assessment though on those trees that pose a safety hazard to the public.

 

  1. The City has begun an inventory of trees in our urban forest (species, size, health, etc.), but trees are not given value as “assets” or “green infrastructure.” Will you support and advocate for a comprehensive inventory of trees in the City that assigns a dollar value to the trees (using currently available computer programs that compute the dollar value of ecological services provided by trees)? This value would then be used in the assessment of the cost of proposed city projects. Why or why not.

I would support such an initiative to which I believe has already started in our parks. Extending it to other public spaces makes sense.

 

  1. City Council passed a tree by-law in 2010 which requires permits for removing large trees on properties over half an acre in size (.2 ha). This tree by-law only covers about 6% of privately owned properties within the City. It does not cover city trees, institutional trees or the trees on small private properties where the majority of our urban forest exists.Will you support and advocate for expanding the existing tree by-law to cover all private properties in Guelph? Why or why not.

I think I would need more information about the reasons for removing healthy trees on private property. 6% coverage seems very low but extending it could be costly so would like to study that a bit more.

 

  1. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation is now eating its way through our ash trees. The     ash inventory is almost complete and an EAB plan has been adopted by council.  Do you support full flexible funding for this initiative so the amount of money needed for injecting, removing and replanting is available as needed in a timely manner? Why or why not.

Wherever possible we should be replanting ash trees that have been destroyed. Would have to look at the costs of injecting but certainly this is a disaster and we need to find the funding to adequately address the problems.

  1. GUFF is very happy that our new Forestry Manager is hired and running his department. But, the department does not have the full complement of staff. Our forest is both growing and ageing at a greater pace, placing more demands on the department. Will you support full funding for the Urban Forest Management Plan and the Arborist Crew in the next budget cycle? Why or why not.

I will absolutely support full funding for the Urban Forest Management and the Arborist Crew. Our trees have been hit hard over the past few years we need to take necessary steps to protect them.

  1. Shade is important for reducing the heat island effect and for reducing the risk of skin cancer. Will you support and advocate for establishing a shade policy which would set goals for shade coverage along streets/sidewalks, in parking lots and in parks? Why or why not.

I will absolutely support and advocate for establishing a shade policy. Mother nature provides this for us we need to support it.

  1. There is currently no recognition or protection of trees that are exceptionally large, old or have a significant history in the City. Will you support and advocate designating and protecting Heritage Trees? Why or why not.

Absolutely and I think there should be a very clear by law with a hefty fine if you decide to cut one down, The old Woods Factory had an abundance of trees at the corner of Arthur and Elizabeth, with in a few days we lost about 4 of them. Down the street one neighbour cut down 3 trees to fit a huge driveway on his lot. On Ontario St. one property cut down all the big trees in its back yard to suit a developer’s needs. The blue spruce in front of our house is over 90ft tall and over 60 years old it does so much for our home.

  1. The City has begun an inventory of trees in our urban forest (species, size, health, etc.), but trees are not given value as “assets” or “green infrastructure.” Will you support and advocate for a comprehensive inventory of trees in the City that assigns a dollar value to the trees (using currently available computer programs that compute the dollar value of ecological services provided by trees)? This value would then be used in the assessment of the cost of proposed city projects. Why or why not.

I will absolutely. Because it is the right thing to do.

  1. City Council passed a tree by-law in 2010 which requires permits for removing large trees on properties over half an acre in size (.2 ha). This tree by-law only covers about 6% of privately owned properties within the City. It does not cover city trees, institutional trees or the trees on small private properties where the majority of our urban forest exists. Will you support and advocate for expanding the existing tree by-law to cover all private properties in Guelph? Why or why not

I will absolutely advocate support for expanding the existing tree by-law to cover all private properties in Guelph.

  1. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation is now eating its way through our ash trees. The ash inventory is almost complete and an EAB plan has been adopted by council.   Do you support full flexible funding for this initiative so the amount of money needed for injecting, removing and replanting is available as needed in a timely manner? Why or why not.

I will indeed support full flexible funding for this initiative so the amount of money needed for injecting, removing and replanting is available as needed in a timely manner because we have a responsibility to nature.

GUFF Election 2014 Candidate Questions

Leanne Piper

  1. GUFF is very happy that our new Forestry Manager is hired and running his department. But, the department does not have the full complement of staff. Our forest is both growing and ageing at a greater pace, placing more demands on the department. Will you support full funding for the Urban Forest Management Plan and the Arborist Crew in the next budget cycle? Why or why not.

Yes, I have been committed to full implementation of the UFMP since it was first passed by Council. Why? We are falling behind in our 40% canopy goal because the spread of Emerald Ash Borer and major storms have redirected our limited forestry staff resources. We have a lot of catching up to do, and the sooner we get started the better.

  1. Shade is important for reducing the heat island effect and for reducing the risk of skin cancer. Will you support and advocate for establishing a shade policy which would set goals for shade coverage along streets/sidewalks, in parking lots and in parks? Why or why not.

Yes, fully support, especially in parking lots and streetscapes. Walkability is a city-wide goal, and shaded streets are an essential component. Stormwater and erosion control require healthy tree cover, especially along arterial roads and the Hanlon.

  1. There is currently no recognition or protection of trees that are exceptionally large, old or have a significant history in the City. Will you support and advocate designating and protecting Heritage Trees? Why or why not.

Ideally, yes. It is more complicated than simply an age assessment, but for trees that have an association with a cultural landscape or heritage property, I fully support. There are many public and private trees that would qualify.

  1. The City has begun an inventory of trees in our urban forest (species, size, health, etc.), but trees are not given value as “assets” or “green infrastructure.” Will you support and advocate for a comprehensive inventory of trees in the City that assigns a dollar value to the trees (using currently available computer programs that compute the dollar value of ecological services provided by trees)? This value would then be used in the assessment of the cost of proposed city projects. Why or why not.

We have started an inventory in parks, and this should be extended to all public spaces. Green infrastructure is a concept that has standardized values that can be easily calculated, and should be a component of city projects.

  1. City Council passed a tree by-law in 2010 which requires permits for removing large trees on properties over half an acre in size (.2 ha). This tree by-law only covers about 6% of privately owned properties within the City. It does not cover city trees, institutional trees or the trees on small private properties where the majority of our urban forest exists. Will you support and advocate for expanding the existing tree by-law to cover all private properties in Guelph? Why or why not

We need a private tree by-law to prevent unnecessary cutting of healthy trees. That being said, there are a limited number of reasons that tree removal is necessary, which should be determined through community consultation in the development of a by-law.

  1. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation is now eating its way through our ash trees. The ash inventory is almost complete and an EAB plan has been adopted by council.  Do you support full flexible funding for this initiative so the amount of money needed for injecting, removing and replanting is available as needed in a timely manner? Why or why not.

EAB will devastate our community’s ash trees, and we are now at a point where treating – in perpetuity – might not be the wisest course of action. That being said, there are key locations where large ash should be preserved. For many young trees, the best approach is to begin replacement and companion plantings is right now, followed by removal of dead trees when appropriate. With succession planting done in advance, the impact will be less severe.

deer

March 7, 2014 By Joe Schwartz

ITHACA, N.Y. – By literally looking below the surface and digging up the dirt, Cornell researchers have discovered that a burgeoning deer population forever alters the progression of a forest’s natural future by creating environmental havoc in the soil and disrupting the soil’s natural seed banks.

The study, “Deer Browsing Delays Succession by Altering Aboveground Vegetation and Below g ound Seed Banks,” was published online March 7 in PLOS ONE.

“Deer are slowing down forest succession or natural establishment. In fact, the deer are preventing forests from establishing,” says Anurag Agrawal, Cornell professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, a co-author on the paper.

Deer typically prefer to eat native, woody plants and rebuff invasive species. The study showed that when deer consume native plants, the non-native species are left to flourish, dropping their seeds in the soil.

As forests normally mature, their grasses give way to herbs and shrubs, and then new trees eventually take root. Expanding deer populations in the Northeast, however, stall forest development and promote the growth of thorny thickets of buckthorn, viburnum and multiflora rose bushes. If deer leave the forests alone, such trees as cottonwood, locust and sumac can sprout and grow unimpeded.

The researchers found that the impacts of deer grazing on vegetation were severe and resulted in bare soil and reduced plant biomass, less recruitment of woody species and relatively fewer native species. And the deer’s negative impact on seed banks resulted in significantly decreased overall species richness and relatively more short-lived species of both annual and biennial plants.

Co-author Antonio DiTommaso, Cornell associate professor of weed ecology and management, and research technician Scott Morris gathered soil cores – from both within and outside of fenced “deer exclosures” – and germinated the seed. They found the soil cores from outside of the exclosures contained many more seeds from non-native species.

Deer select forests for their trees but in doing so disrupt forest system growth trajectories, concludes the study.

“It’s obvious that the deer are affecting the above-ground species, but it’s like an iceberg. There are major effects below the soil surface. We are seeing a divergence of seeds contained within the soil from what should be there,” says DiTommaso. “We are not seeing the seeds of woody plants. Instead, we’re seeing an escalation of non-native seed and the virtual elimination of woody plant seeds.”

The multiyear study was conducted on Cornell land near Freese Road in Ithaca, where the deer density is about 39 animals per square kilometer – about 10 times greater than it was before European settlement in the late 1700s.

Dear Guff:

Please find below the completed survey. I apologize for being so long winded as the maintenance of health canopy requires so much thought and effort. I hope my answers make sense to you. If anything is unclear please contact me – especially for clarification on any questions I might have parsed.

Regards,

Phil Allt

  1. GUFF is very happy that our new Forestry Manager is hired and running his department. But, the department does not have the full complement of staff. Our forest is both growing and aging at a greater pace, placing more demands on the department. Will you support full funding for the Urban Forest Management Plan and the Arborist Crew in the next budget cycle? Why or why not.

Without seeming to equivocate and because I love trees, I have to say I am unsure. If, when I am councillor, budgeting permits fully supported funding, I am indeed in favour. This however has to be balanced with other concerns such as support  for infrastructure improvements including water and sewage, bike lanes roads and public transit. In my dream world, I would love to see a healthy canopy across all of Guelph. There are areas that have been denuded of trees (Elizabeth Street and Willow road for example) that would benefit from canopy restoration. Furthermore, trees, as living and dying life, need nurturing and this can only be accomplished if we provide funding for those skilled at determining a trees long and short viability.

  1. Shade is important for reducing the heat island effect and for reducing the risk of skin cancer. Will you support and advocate for establishing a shade policy which would set goals for shade coverage along streets/sidewalks, in parking lots and in parks? Why or why not.

Absolutely I would support this. As per question one: I believe a strong canopy makes a lot of sense. From an aesthetic point of view a strong canopy improves street appeal. From an ecological and energy point of view, trees reduce Greenhouse Gas production by reducing dependency on air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. I might also add that kids love trees. They are a natural playground and this confirms for me that a shade policy is a positive element for any city to consider.

  1. There is currently no recognition or protection of trees that are exceptionally large, old or have a significant history in the City. Will you support and advocate designating and protecting Heritage Trees? Why or why not.

Yes, preserving old tress that have heritage value i.e. white pines in Exhibition Park enhance Guelph and helps us restore a part of our heritage that has been lost over the past 150 years or so. To whit in my mom’s house which is 150 plus years old, white pine harvested from the Exhibition Park area can be found in the walls – the plank size of which is enormous  – 18” to 24” in width. Those trees which grew to approximately 200 feet are a rare commodity in Ontario. Sadly if we could find the North American Chestnut somewhere, Guelph would be a great place to restore it too.

  1. The City has begun an inventory of trees in our urban forest (species, size, health, etc.), but trees are not given value as “assets” or “green infrastructure.” Will you support and advocate for a comprehensive inventory of trees in the City that assigns a dollar value to the trees (using currently available computer programs that compute the dollar value of ecological services provided by trees)? This value would then be used in the assessment of the cost of proposed city projects. Why or why not.

I will only support it based on an ecological foundation. I am concerned that if a dollar value is assigned, many people will assume that means that trees are a harvestable commodity. The trees to which you refer are trees which dollar for dollar are considered part of saving money via energy savings and ecological sustenance. I would rather impress upon people that it is not the dollar value that matter (just like it is not the dollar value of a beluga whale as a comparison) but the value as living dynamic element within the local environment that should be preserved in order to enhance a neighbourhood.

  1. City Council passed a tree by-law in 2010 which requires permits for removing large trees on properties over half an acre in size (.2 ha). This tree by-law only covers about 6% of privately owned properties within the City. It does not cover city trees, institutional trees or the trees on small private properties where the majority of our urban forest exists. Will you support and advocate for expanding the existing tree by-law to cover all private properties in Guelph? Why or why not

Yes (and this answer is simple) because it is the right thing to do. When a by-law only applies to certain properties it can easily be rescinded. Clearly on a large property there are more large trees. Yet, on a small property (mine) I could have a tree of some significance – say an elm that has survived – that should fall under the same jurisdiction. Laws cannot be made for just one component of the property owning public or for the property.

  1. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation is now eating its way through our ash trees.  The ash inventory is almost complete and an EAB plan has been adopted by council.   Do you support full flexible funding for this initiative so the amount of money needed for  injecting, removing and replanting is available as needed in a timely manner?  Why or why not.

Yes, mixed forest in Guelph and elsewhere is vital to the health of the city and the province. I do have some concerns with injecting pesticides into anything however. As I live in a termite zone, I fear for unneeded neurotoxins and others leaching into the soil.

 

 

“Yes, I am my brother’s keeper” Eugene Debs

GUFF is very happy that our new Forestry Manager is hired and running his department. But, the department does not have the full complement of staff. Our forest is both growing and aging at a greater pace, placing more demands on the department. Will you support full funding for the Urban Forest Management Plan and the Arborist Crew in the next budget cycle? Why or why not.

A:
This is a budgetary matter that cannot really get a yes/no answer at this point.  I expect that the incoming council will focus spending on strategic priorities and essential services.

2. Shade is important for reducing the heat island effect and for reducing the risk of skin cancer. Will you support and advocate for establishing a shade policy which would set goals for shade coverage along streets/sidewalks, in parking lots and in parks? Why or why not.

A:
Shade is an elusive property. My own backyard maple is a good example: we loved the protection it gave our fair skinned children 10 years ago, yet now it’s ever widening circle stops most sunlight from entering our vegetable garden (and yet I would never cut it down).  A shade policy, if you ever hoped to enforce it, would be difficult.

3. There is currently no recognition or protection of trees that are exceptionally large, old or have a significant history in the City. Will you support and advocate designating and protecting Heritage Trees? Why or why not.

A:
I enjoy seeing streets lined with grand old trees, however under circumstances where they pose a risk, the public good should get priority.
When the large trees in Stanley Park were felled in a storm, many people had an emotional response.  If and when the City of Guelph intends to remove large trees, the people must be informed in advance of any action.  A Heritage designation is not required for people to have an emotional connection to a tree.

4. The City has begun an inventory of trees in our urban forest (species, size, health, tc.), but trees are not given value as “assets” or “green infrastructure.” Will you support and advocate for a comprehensive inventory of trees in the City that assigns a dollar value to the trees (using currently available computer programs that compute the dollar value of
 ecological services provided by trees)? This value would then be used in the assessment of the cost of proposed city projects. Why or why not.

A:
The inventory of our trees is a great step to monitoring and maintaining levels; giving trees a dollar value implies a tree is interchangeable with cash.  This is a dangerous move if the ultimate goal is to keep the trees.
(Also, would not the cost of such an on-going assessment have to be factored into net value of these trees?)

5. City Council passed a tree by-law in 2010 which requires permits for removing large trees on properties over half an acre in size (.2 ha). This tree by-law only covers about 6% of privately owned properties within the City. It does not cover city trees, institutional trees or the trees on small private properties where the majority of our urban forest exists.
 Will you support and advocate for expanding the existing tree by-law to cover all
 private properties in Guelph? Why or why not

A.
Although all large trees should require a permit before they are removed, we must acknowledge an owner’s right to use his property as he sees fit.

6. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation is now eating its way through our ash trees.  The ash inventory is almost complete and an EAB plan has been adopted by council.   Do you support full flexible funding for this initiative so the amount of money needed for  injecting, removing and replanting is available as needed in a timely manner? 
 Why or why not.

A:
Today it is the EAB, tomorrow will bring another disease/parasite .Better practices toward plant/tree management is required in a comprehensive plan.

Thank-you for this opportunity to address your group, and for your passionate commitment to our forests.
I never feel more calm than when I am sitting in a tree

Rob Dunn-Dufault

 

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