Every year, the City of Brandon competes with other cities across the country for various awards in the National Communities in Bloom competition.
The Communities in Bloom organization has a noble purpose — a Canadian, non-profit organization, it is “committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility, beautification and to improving quality of life through community participation and the challenge of a national program,” according to its website.
While the City of Brandon has participated in the national program in past years, this year the City of Brandon netted a prestigious honour from the National Communities in Bloom, thanks to the community’s apparent commitment to restore and enrich its history urban forestry.
As the Sun reported yesterday, the city is the 2013 recipient of the CN Urban Forestry Outstanding Achievement Award, which was presented in Ottawa last week.
The award cites Brandon’s efforts in recognizing heritage trees, of maintaining a tree inventory and replacement program and its integrated pest management practices.
The award also recognized the relationship between city staff, the Riverbank Discovery Centre and the many other community funding partners and volunteers who will be key in the restoration of the Assiniboine River Corridor, which was extensively damaged by flooding in 2011.
“This is truly a community-wide award,” community development manager Esther Bryan said in a press release. “Without all of the support from businesses, organizations and volunteers and the hard work from both city of Brandon and Riverbank Discovery Centre staff, our efforts to restore, maintain and improve the natural beauty of our community would not have been possible.
“We are very blessed to live in a city where people work together to ensure that we have a green infrastructure that is valued.”
We agree that efforts to restore the riverbank area — one of the city’s most beautiful locations — deserve recognition, and we’re glad to see the folks at Communities in Bloom see fit to honour those efforts.
In light of this award, however, we still believe the City of Brandon needs to implement a tree protection policy, like those in Calgary and Winnipeg.
Sun readers may recall that earlier this year the city posted a notice on its website of a street closure on Fifth Street for road reconstruction and water main renewal between July 15 and Aug. 16. It was part of a $400,000 street overhaul project to replace the sewer system, the water main, the sidewalks and the pavement on that section of street.What they didn’t tell residents was that their trees were coming down.
As the Sun had reported, city crews cut down 17 mature American elms and maple trees on the 400-block of Fifth Street — many, if not all, were estimated to be roughly 75 to 100 years old.
While the city doesn’t have a tree protection policy, as we have noted on this page before, we do have an operational policy for the removal of trees that dates back to 1994, which states that a mature tree on public property in the City of Brandon shall only be removed by the Parks Department when the tree is dead, diseased, hazardous to employees involved in underground work or hazardous to the general public.
The policy further says that “all public works and utilities shall be designed so as to minimize, within reasonable economic limits, their effects on the natural environment.” To us, that still means that it’s cheaper to fell a tree than to protect it.
While the policy lays out specific guidelines for tree replacement, we still believe the city hasn’t gone far enough to protect what we believe is part of this city’s natural heritage.
The Communities in Bloom award is nice to have and burnishes this city’s reputation for urban forestry, but we suggest the city’s tree policy remains hopelessly outdated.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 30, 2013