GUFF Election 2014 Candidate Questions – Karen Farbridge


  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.

The hiring of our Forestry Manager was a major move forward to our community. I was grateful for the support we received from groups like GUFF to help make that happen.

I support providing the resources required to make the Urban Forest Management Plan a success. Clarity on these resources is important because I am concerned that our ability to implement the Urban Forest Management Plan is being compromised by the rise in extreme weather events, such as wind and ice storms. Although safety concerns associated with weather-related tree damage must take priority, they do draw from the resources available for proactively managing our urban trees and canopy. That is why I have asked staff for a review of this matter prior to the 2015 budget.


  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 support the long-term goal of achieving a 40% canopy cover for the many benefits it would bring to the local environment and the health and wellbeing of people.

We know trees provide many services to our community from lowering urban air temperatures and ozone levels to creating safer walking environments by reducing traffic speeds and road rage. The presence of trees have been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve overall emotional and psychological health. In a Chicago study, “girls who lived in apartments with greener, more natural views scored better on tests of self-discipline than those living in more barren and otherwise identical housing.”


  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 believe there is merit in protecting significant heritage trees where the circumstances warrant.


  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 support assigning a financial value to our green infrastructure to better understand the contribution that urban forest makes to our city.


  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.

That the by-law only covers 6% of the urban forest seems inadequate. However, the administrative costs for the city to expand the existing tree by-law to cover all private properties in Guelph could be very high. I would need to see a cost-benefit analysis to ensure this would be a prudent use of municipal property taxes and would not simply drain resources away from other work to protect and grow the canopy.


  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 support providing our Forestry Team with the resources and flexibility they need to address the impact of the Emerald Ash Borer on ash trees and our canopy in a timely manner.