Winnipeg’s loss of urban greenness among worst in Canada: report


Winnipeg’s loss of ‘urban greenness’ is among the worst in Canada over the past two decades, according to a report from Statistics Canada. 

The city has seen the second-largest per cent drop in urban greenness in the last 18 years.

“The main reason for that is just losses due to invasive pests, particularly Dutch elm disease, and then also not being able to keep up with the replacement of those trees over time.” said Martha Barwinsky, City Forester.

“Over the last five years, I believe we removed over 20,000 public trees. So street and park trees, most of those removals are due to Dutch disease.”

Over the next several months, over 8,100 elm trees will be coming down across the city, Barwinsky says.

“With the increases that we’ve seen with Dutch Elm Disease, we have to get the trees out. So that’s a priority. We’ve had to shift gears to allocate more of those resources to the removals and to sanitation, which takes away from the replanting efforts.”

For some Winnipeggers this is a really devastating, especially since some of the trees falling victim to the disease have stood for years.

“I want it removed as soon as possible, and just because I don’t want DED to spread to the rest of the trees in this neighbourhood and on this block, but I’m really sad about it, actually,” said Ariel Gordon, Wolseley resident.

Gordon is a self-proclaimed tree enthusiast and the tree that needs to be removed has stood for nearly 110 years outside her home.

“The house was built in 1912 and the tree was planted a year later.” she said “I was really hoping that my tree would survive, that it would outlive me, and that I would somehow move away from this house and the tree would still be here and someone else would inherit my tree.”

The city is proposing ways to replace trees faster but that plan hinges on funding approved by the mayor and council, according to Barwinsky.

“We’re making recommendations to increase our reforestation rate, a replacement rate at minimum of one-to-one,” she said.

“In addition to that one-to-one replacement rate, we need to plant trees in vacant planting sites that we have around the city.”

“With the 2-billion trees program over up to 2025, that’ll add another 70,000 trees to our planting program, which is really great.”

However, organizations such as Trees Winnipeg think replanting it doesn’t fall entirely on the city’s shoulders.

“When you look at a map of the city, most of the property is private homeowners, business owners, and institutions like schools and churches,” said Christian Cassidy, Trees Winnipeg.

“That’s who owns the most land, and we’re losing trees in all of those types of areas, So this isn’t something that the city alone is going to be able to replant us out of.”

“I think the solution is for everyone to look to find where they can recreate. It might start with your own personal property, whether it’s your home or business.”

— With files from Global’s Rosanna Hempel

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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