Thank you for your email and your questions.
I little about me, I started my education at Sir Sanford Fleming College in Lindsay Ontario and recieved a two year diploma in Ecosystems Management. Following this I completed my undergraduate B.Sc at Trent University and my Masters in Environmental Science at U of T; all focussing on ecology and natural sciences. By design, my education and career have always focussed on sustainable development and seeking innovative ways to balance the many social, environmental and economic aspects of complex issues. I’m more than happy to discuss my answers further with GUFF if/when I’m elected. I’ve embedded my answers within your questions below. They are meant to be concise, not brief:)
- 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.
The ecological services provided by Guelph’s Urban forest benefits all citizens. To this end, I’m supportive of the urban forestry (Manager) program and funding commensurate with past budgets. The term “Full Funding” however is fairly vague and open to interpretation.
- 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.
Good question. Similar to my first answer, the ecological services provided by Guelph’s Urban forest extend to all citizens and should be supported. As such, I support goal setting initiatives for shade along streets/sidewalks, parking lots and parks. I would however caution implementing a mandated and enforceable shade policy without further debate/discussion.
- 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’ll note there is already a provincial effort to designate Heritage Trees through Trees Ontario http://www.treesontario.ca/programs/index.php/heritage_tree_program.
- 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 am a proponent for quantifying the monetary benefits of green infrastructure. The savings ($$) gained through ecological capital (i.e. wetlands services) over engineered solutions (stormwater management) remains an under valued ($$) field.
- 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’m supportive of protecting all trees located on City of Guelph property, including parks, boulevards, and natural spaces (i.e. woodlands, wetlands, ESAs) through a by-law. A by-law which infringes on private property rights however is not my ideal solution for protecting large trees. My focus would be first on community based programs to promote awareness, stewardship and protection of large mature trees. Much like the GUFF’s already undertake. These types of appraoches are less intrusive and, through my experience with other pieces of environmental legislation, are much more accepted by the public.
- 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’m supportive of the urban forestry program, and as such, am supportive of carrying out the EAB plan. To this point however, the term “full, flexible funding” is once again fairly vague and open to interpretation.
Dan Gibson | Ward 1 City Council Candidate