I admit tree-knowledge is not my biggest strength, though they are one of my favourite forms of life.  I’ll try not to embarass myself in my answers.

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.

I don’t understand the statement “aging at a greater pace”.  Is this a reference to wear-and-tear
from pollution?  If you could send me clarification I would be appreciative.  “Full funding” is tough to pledge for anything right now.  Too many lawsuits and poor money-management by previous mayors and councils.  I fully intend to place a focus on growth of green areas, of which tree-life will be vitally important.  I spend a great deal of my time walking barefoot from place to place and believe me, grass is best and trees are so great on a hot day.

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.

Definitely for streets/sidewalks and parks.  Not so much for parking lots.  People need to spend as little time in parking lots as possible.

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.

I will, but not universally.  Each case will be unique and have to be judged on its merits, and I believe there are going to be cases where something old will have to be removed for infrastructure development, but want policies for replacement of disturbed green-life once infrastructure work is complete.  I would like to work to protect old trees in the older parts of the cities as much as possible, though, just because that’s how I feel.

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.

The idea sounds great but whether or not this is the time to implement such a project is something I will need more information about due to issues of budget.  As previously mentioned we have many financial issues to deal with and something like this may be better off implemented by future mayors and councils, while maintaining a policy of attempting to protect the presently established green infrastructure.  If you have any information regarding the costs of implementing a program like this please forward them to me for consideration.

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

Extending it to cover all city and institutional trees is something I’d consider.  All private property is another matter.  I don’t think I would be able to effectively convince enough council votes on something that all-encompassing, however if you guys can get a council elected that would do that I certainly wouldn’t begrudge democracy playing out as it is designed.

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.

Again, anytime funding issues come up in this election it is necessary to discuss the debt, lawsuits and rising property taxes.  I am ill-informed at this point as to the extent of the infestation and its consequences, but as I generally support the protection of green infrastructure I am prone to supporting funding for things like this.

If there is anything more I can answer for you please don’t hesitate to ask.  For your consideration I am attaching a copy of the second-half of my election campaign literature.  If you’d like a copy of the first half you can pick them up downtown at Datamatrix on Baker Street (it’s too large for an email attachment).  I hope you see something in the writings that you enjoy and will consider me for the mayor’s office this year.  Thank you and take care.

Respectfully,

Joseph St. Denis
Candidate for Mayor