Candidacy for Councillor, Ward 5
- 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.
SRB: I am a staunch proponent of zero-based budgeting. In my professional life, this approach has been a critical feature of the overall success of the municipal association that I work for. By breaking down every facet of our operation, the organization has been able to determine which initiatives to enhance and which initiatives to end. Each department must present a strong rationale for their request and each request must fit into the overall direction of the organization. The City needs to embrace this approach. If a recommendation came forward from staff advocating the expansion of the arborist crew within a zero-based budgeting framework, I would support it.
- 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.
SRB: The benefits of having a dynamic tree canopy in an urban environment are undeniable. I would be willing to support the establishment of guidelines for enhancing the beneficial effects of shade.
- 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.
SRB: I would support the creation of an inventory of trees that are exceptionally large or old, contingent on the establishment of clear and easily understood metrics to determine which trees meet these criteria. Any trees on this inventory could be removed so long as the property owner, whether public or private, offset this loss with 15 new trees of the same variety. Exceptions would only be granted for trees damaged by extreme weather, infected by disease or which pose an imminent danger to the public. I would not support extending “heritage protection” to any trees.
- 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.
SRB: I could not agree more strongly. As the effects of climate change become better understood, trees will be critical components of stormwater management systems. They will also be important features in any adaptation or mitigation strategy. My work with the Ontario Good Roads Association has given me a comprehensive understanding of municipal infrastructure asset management plans. It is common practice amongst leading practitioners to catalogue trees as one of the 131 classes of municipal infrastructure assets, just like roads, bridges and sewers. I would advocate for the adoption of the Ontario Residential Tree Benefits Estimator developed by Ryerson University to determine a tree’s value.
- 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
SRB: I would not. The expansion of the 2010 by-law to all private properties seems virtually impossible to enforce.
- 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.
SRB: I could not support the full flexible funding of the Emerald Ash Borer Plan. While I appreciate the importance of responding to the damaging effects of the Emerald Ash Borer, the sad reality is that EAB is but one of a long list of invasive species facing municipalities across the province. There is also Asian Carp, Purple Loosestrife, Phagmites, Zebra Mussels, Rusty Crayfish, Round Goby, Eurasian Water Milfoil, Asian Long-horned Beetle, Mountain Pine Beetle, Giant Hogweed and Dog Strangling Vine. And the list goes on. Moreover, the overall effectiveness of the proactive approach favoured by the City does not offer up any guarantees. I do have full faith in nature’s ability to overcome these sorts of anomalies. I would rather take a quarter of the $16M that would have gone into fully funding the plan and instead create a partnership between the City, the County, the local Boards of Education and NGOs such as GUFF. A coalition of these groups could be funded to go into elementary school classrooms to educate children about the beneficial effects of urban canopies and the damaging effects of invasive species to local ecological systems.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with.