BRANDON -- The historic, scenic eastern gateway into Brandon will be given new life -- quite literally -- with the replacement of dead and dying trees along First Street North later this fall.
Thanks largely to a grant from the Canadian National Railway, in partnership with Communities in Bloom and Tree Canada, Brandon will plant 60 native spruce trees, most of which will enhance the median on First Street, located south of the intersection with Veterans Way.
The rest of the new trees will replace those that were cut down along the eastern lane to the north of Veterans Lane near Assiniboine Community College during road redevelopment on the hill in 2009.
"We're looking at that whole area as part of our First Street Restoration," Brandon community services director Perry Roque said Thursday. "There will be a whole event happening up there. That information isn't firmed up yet. We hope to have that information out at the end of June."
Until recently, First Street North was considered one of Brandon's most attractive gateways. But due to the flood of 2011 and other "biotic and abiotic stressors," as per the city's grant application, many of the trees on the median are now dead or dying -- at least 30 as of August 2013.
"We thought they were the province's trees," Roque said Thursday. "We talked with the province and they said no, they're actually the City of Brandon's trees because they're coming through a community."
With the question of jurisdiction cleared up, the city decided to remedy the situation. Earlier this spring, city crews cut down dead trees on the median that posed a danger to passing motorists. It also applied for funding from CN's EcoConnexions -- From the Ground Up grant program.
CN's website says the objective of the program is to promote the greening of municipal properties across Canada, especially areas in close proximity to rail lines.
Tree Canada and Communities in Bloom rate each application and present a ranked list of programs to CN, which selects the final candidates.
Brandon was one of 30 chosen out of 191 applications for 2014. Brandon's project will receive a grant of $21,350, and as part of the program requirements, the city will match it by providing the labour for the installation.
"They're buying the trees, and we're doing other things in the community -- installing the trees, preparing the land and everything for the installation," Roque said.
"(But) it's not just about going out and planting a tree when you get these grants. It's about the education side, too."
The city intends to make an event out of the tree replacements, what Roque called a "celebration" to promote environmentally friendly aspects of tree-planting in the community.
The event is likely to take place in mid-September.
-- Brandon Sun