Posted by: Viviane Templeton
One of the City of Ottawa’s goals is to build up our tree canopy so that it comprises 40 percent of our urban area.
Ottawa’s Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES), of which the OOS Enviro Crew’s Tree Team is a member, is supporting the city’s goal with its Neighbourhood Canopy Regeneration Project, which serves to encourage communities to plant new trees and protect the ones we already have.
Tree canopy regeneration is especially critical for older urban neighbourhoods like ours. Many of our trees are mature, either reaching the end of their life spans or potentially vulnerable to weather events such as wind and ice storms. Our community needs to be continually planting new trees and maintaining our existing ones, so that we can keep the streets of OOS leafy green for future generations.
There are many ways to tackle this. We can focus on plantable spots on residential and commercial properties, around public buildings and in parks. We can also suggest ways to maintain trees in as healthy a state as possible.
The latest 2023 Tree Team initiative has been to tally, block by block, OOS residential front and side yards without trees. This became a priority for us as we realized it would be easy to get a sense of canopy gaps just by walking around the neighbourhood. We also knew that the city has an already established program, called Trees in Trust, through which interested residents can request a tree to be planted in their front yards for free.
During this past summer, we canvassed the OOS community and then created a map highlighting streets by the percentage of properties without front and side yard trees. (Please note that if you find us overly enthusiastic in our highlighting of potential plantable spots on your street, just realize that we are simply trying to be as optimistic as possible in indicating any spot where a new tree could possibly be planted.)
Take a look at the adjoining map entitled “OLD OTTAWA SOUTH TREE INVENTORY – % FRONT AND SIDE YARDS WITHOUT A TREE BY STREET BLOCK.” If your street is indicated as yellow or red on the map, and you think you have a suitable space for a tree on your property, please consider taking advantage of the Trees and Trust program.
As a property owner, you can make a request to participate in the program, online through Ottawa.ca/forestry, or by calling 311. A forestry inspector will visit and assess your front yard site for suitability. If it’s a go, the city will suggest a range of species and – bonus! – you select your tree from this list. The city will then plant the tree during the closest available fall or spring planting season, on a first-come, first-serve basis. All you have to do is commit to watering the tree for three years.
Please let us know if you request a tree by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for more helpful tips and initiatives for canopy regeneration.
Viviane Templeton is a longtime resident of Old Ottawa South and a member of the Enviro Crew’s Tree Team.
Featured in the December 2023 OSCAR.