The summer flood that rushed through the city in July and demanded attention from City of Brandon officials has not derailed plans to replace dead and dying trees along First Street North next month.
However, the greening of the city’s historic and scenic eastern gateway will be somewhat less extensive than first anticipated.
Last May, the city announced it had received a grant from the Canadian National Railway, in partnership with Communities in Bloom and Tree Canada, to remove and replant 60 trees along the median on First Street, located south of the intersection with Veterans Way.
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 trees on the median are now dead or dying.
City administration had planned to make a celebration out of the tree planting in the fall to promote environmentally friendly aspects of tree planting in the community. But the unexpected summer flooding put that project on hold until this month.
"With the flood happening, it has taken everyone’s time," said Brandon in Bloom co-ordinator Stacey Patterson, who is leading the project. "As we were planning over the summer, we had the flood, and we had to decide whether to put them in this fall, or wait until next spring.
"In the last three weeks we decided to go ahead with it this year."
The City of Brandon was one of 30 chosen out of 191 applications for 2014. Brandon’s project received a grant of $21,350. As part of the program requirements, the city matched that grant by providing the labour to do all the installation.
Of the 60 trees that will be planted on the median, 40 will be mixed varieties of native spruce trees, 10 of a variety called "Starlight," five linden trees and five maple.
But the central site on the median has been deemed unsuitable for students and volunteers to be included in the planting process, so the city has partnered with the Assiniboine Community College to host a ceremonial tree planting on the campus on Sept. 12.
Although final details will be announced later, closer to the event, eight different varieties of fruit trees and bushes will be planted in pre-dug holes. The fruit trees will be part of a total of 25 replacement trees and bushes that will be planted at the campus this fall and become part of the curriculum at ACC.
"They’re supposed to be hardy species for Manitoba," said ACC horticulture instructor and researcher Dr. Lord Abbey. "They’re relatively new. We’re going to try them out."
The trees and shrubs will be used for teaching, demonstrations and research — and also for the "field to fork" program operating through the culinary arts program. The new greenery will be a welcome addition to the college, as it will replace an aging campus orchard that has become unusable.
"We don’t have any edible fruit trees — this is a very good restoration to promote that concept," Abbey said.
As part of the September event, school students from the Brandon School Division will be transported to the venue to tour the east side of the campus where the horticultural studies take place. Composting workshops and greenhouse tours will also be available. Tree saplings will be handed to students when they leave.
The ceremonial planting, which is open to the public, will begin at 11 a.m. and run for a half-hour. The city will be sending official invites to local officials on Friday.
"I'm super excited about the event. It's a really great cause," Patterson said. "I think it’s going to be great."
When the green restoration of the median was first announced last spring, Brandon community services director Perry Roque initially told the Sun that, as part of this event, the city was considering replacing trees that had been cut down along the eastern lane to the north of Veterans Way during the road development on the hill in 2009.
Although there had been discussion along those lines, Roque told the Sun yesterday that tree replacements on that stretch of roadway will not be part of this grant program.
"We would like to look at that, but right now we don’t have it scheduled," Roque said. "I can’t tell you for sure it’s going to happen."