Election 2014 Candidate Questions

Alex Green

  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. Will you support full funding for the Urban Forest Management Plan in the next budget cycle? Why or why not.

The Forestry Manager has been at work for more than ten months now, so if the city has indeed not fully staffed his department, that’s a bit of a disgrace. Having an understaffed department is certainly not an efficient use of city funds, so I would absolutely support fully funding the UFMP and the Arborist Crew.

  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.

Additional shade along our streets and in parks would be welcome, and I certainly support planting more trees in those areas. However, I would need more information on how the implementation and measurement processes of any shade policy would work before I could advocate for it.

  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.

The world has recognized for quite some time that there are some trees which simply ought not be cut down. There’s no reason for Guelph to go against the prevailing wisdom, so I would wholeheartedly support a method for designating and protecting Heritage Trees. Once the methodology is in place, I would suggest that the City develop a crowdsourcing portal so the people of Guelph can help speed up the designation process while keeping costs down at the same time.

  1. 4. Though the City has adopted a goal of 40% tree canopy coverage, information about tree canopy loss due to development, road construction, etc. is not being collected. Will you support and advocate for collecting publicly accessible data on the annual removal of mature trees and loss of canopy within the City? Why or why not.

Trees have a substantial impact on property values, and leaving them out of the calculations when assessing a project would not be wise. That being the case, I would support their inclusion as assets simply because it makes good business sense.

  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 an inventory of trees in the City assigning 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.

Since there are provisions in the existing law for the removal of trees that are hazardous or diseased, and the number of small private property owners who wish to remove a regulated tree is likely to be relatively low, I would support an amendment to expand the existing by-law to cover all private properties. Laws such as this one should apply to everyone equally.

  1. City Council recently passed a tree by-law which requires permits for removing large trees on properties over half an acre in size. This tree by-law only covers a (small?we need actual) percentage of properties within the City. It does not cover city trees, institutional trees or the majority of property owners in Guelph. Will you support and advocate for expanding the existing tree by-law to cover all private properties in Guelph? Why or why not

Having flexible funding available will ensure that the City is not overwhelmed should a substantial number of EAB infested trees need to be removed and replaced simultaneously. It makes both financial and ecological sense, and I would fully support such flexibility.