GUFF Election 2014 Candidate Questions

  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 funding for an increased crew. I would guide you through the delegate process if necessary and support your cause. As a teacher in Guelph, I am actively involved in the tree planting programs that are presented yearly. If we teach our students the need for reforestation and the importance of increasing our ‘green infrastructure’, then it would only be prudent for a progressive council to support a motion to increase the number of personnel to oversee the greening of our city.

  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.Shade is most definitely lacking along our city streets, especially in the downtown core. I have suffered the effects of basal cell carcinoma for over 15 years. I am the 4th member of my family to deal with this condition. I have a permanent scar from plastic surgery that was required to remove a lesion for the third time. My father and his brother both lost the tops of their ears to this disease, as they were farmers who wore ball caps without adequate ear coverage. This is a very important issue that hits close to home. Our entire city would benefit from a shade policy. I would like to add that outdoor venues also have been a dangerous place for many to go. Riverside Park, which hosts many outdoor festivals, is a very dangerous place for me to go. I regularly remove myself from festivities to sit at the fringe of the activities in search of shade. I worry about our young and vulnerable members of society who are exposed to dangerous amounts of sunlight with no recourse but to wear intense amounts of sunscreen (which can have hazardous results of its own.)
  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 would like more information about how you would propose to do this and I would welcome/assist your group as they present a report to council on the process. Most citizens are very disturbed by the removal of old trees. Unfortunately, it is usually a sentiment shared after the tree is down. Are there other communities who have implemented such a plan? I will research this issue.
  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.This is a new concept to me, but I do like the idea! I will research the computer programs, as this sounds very progressive and in line with the newly adopted Open Guelph ideology. If you don’t know about this initiative, I would encourage you to research it so that you can contribute through a variety of means. We will be much more collaborative with citizens and community interest groups in the next five years. If you use Twitter, you can find out more at #Openguelph.
  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 notI think it is time to re-examine our priorities. Guelph’s tree cover is not going to meet the needs of our ever growing city. I would like to work with your group to examine the existing by-laws and put forward necessary motions to include protection of city trees on both public and private 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.While I endorse this in spirit, I would like to see the costing documents before making a decision. I would also research the issue and explore all budget avenues. It is imperative that I listen to residents and groups that are educated on this topic. I don’t claim to be an expert. I am a lifelong learner, researcher and receptive representative, however. I look forward to participating in the excellent work you are doing for our community. If you have any additional material I could review, I would appreciate documentation, literature and extracts please. Good luck with your work. Thank you very much for the opportunity to express my thoughts on these important topics.

    Laurie Garbutt, Candidate for Ward 4 Councillor