GUFF questionnaire 2014 Karolyne Pickett
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 too am very pleased that Guelph now has a Forestry Manager; as a conservation
biologist, I don’t need convincing about the importance of sound urban tree
management. I do not think it would be responsible on my part to support full funding of
the Plan in one budget cycle in isolation of the overall 2015 City budget, but I do support
incremental funding of the priorities I outline below over the next four years.
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.
Absolutely. Most of the play structures in the City’s East End parks, for example, have
no shade at all (Severn Drive Park is a prime example): children—and the parents
watching them—are baking in full sun. This needs to be remedied, both from an
environmental and a human health perspective. In fact, I think our City shade policy
should go beyond establishing goals for streets, parking lots and parks, and include
minimum requirements for tree cover of new residential, commercial and institutional
development to achieve the City’s tree coverage goal. Hedgerows with mature trees are
consistently deemed expendable and removed in the course of development, yet they
provide shade, contribute to canopy cover, and most importantly provide essential
linkages between habitats.
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.
Solitary trees or trees in parks are often given less value than a forest or woodlot. I
agree that heritage trees ought to be protected as part of our cultural heritage, and I
support the development of cultural heritage criteria against which we should evaluate
large, old or historically significant trees that are under threat of removal or damage. It
has been done in other cities so there are models that we can learn from to develop our
own. If elected I will propose expanding the city’s heritage planning mandate to
specifically include heritage trees, and work with city staff on how to best integrate
natural heritage planning with that of cultural heritage.
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.
Yes, I support a comprehensive inventory of trees in the City and the development of a
municipal database to record and track canopy loss. The City needs to assess current
canopy cover and record all tree removals and new tree plantings to be able to measure
progress towards our tree canopy coverage goal.
As for assigning a dollar value to the trees, I favour the Tree Replacement Valuation
Estimation in place in the City of Hamilton, whereby an individual or corporation is
charged a replacement fee for a tree that is removed, damaged or that will die because
of alterations to its environment. The calculation takes into account the diameter at
breast height (DBH) of the pre-existing tree and the DBH of the replacement tree to
calculate the total number of replacement trees required. The replacement valuation for
trees of significant value (e.g. historical) is evaluated in accordance with the
International Society of Arboriculture Standards.
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.
The current by-law is a step in the right direction but it has limited value given the small
percentage of properties it applies to. Increasing the size of the properties to which the
by-law applied was not the appropriate way to address the concerns raised by residents
in 2010 when the by-law was being debated. Residents’ concerns largely revolved
around the onerous and costly process of having trees assessed; I think Council should
have addressed those issues directly rather than attempt to deal with residents’
concerns by simply limiting the number of residents to which the by-law would apply. It’s
time now to gather lessons-learned from the four-year-old by-law and revise it so that it
would apply to all properties, but without the problematic process-related aspects of the
original by-law proposal. By-laws are doomed to fail without the support of residents. I
am committed to achieving win-win solutions.
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.
Mortality of ash trees due to damage from the Emerald Ash Borer is no different than the
removal or damage of other tree species except that it will happen over a compressed
period of time and then level off. The municipal budget should allocate money for ash
tree replacement based on a yearly estimate of trees forecasted to need removal for
safety reasons, in order to help spread the cost of replacement over time despite an
initial mass die-off. Inoculation of ash trees is most appropriate for large trees, which
have greater environmental benefits and are also more costly to remove than smaller
trees.