Street Tree Program
When the City began the street tree planting program 30 years ago, approximately 650 ornamental plum trees were planted. The urban setting has taken its toll on the plum trees and they are coming to the end of their safe life expectancy. Each year City staff has to remove many of these trees due to tree health issues.
While the spring blossoms were beautiful, plum trees have a short life span and multiple growing defects. Among other issues, the branches split under snow load and the roots decay. The recent ice storm (January 2015) devastated 350 trees and the City spent $220,000 cleaning up and replacing the damaged trees after the storm.
It has also been discovered that planting the same variety in a row left the trees vulnerable to invasive insects and disease. Over time, the City found that we were taking out more and more trees. Since it has been gradual, it has not been noticed by citizens. The remainder are now coming to the end of their safe life expectancy which is why the City must start planting new varieties.
The City is using a mix of species in order to ensure a diverse sustainable street tree inventory. Other items taken under consideration prior to planting new trees is the speed of growth to avoid fast growing that may impede power lines, pruning requirements, hardy tree varieties and that they provide a pop of colour in the fall.
The street tree replacement program supports the replacement of street trees, worst cases first, with trees appropriate for the planting sites. These trees are then put into the city inventory and put on a regular maintenance schedule. The goal is to have all the declining Plum trees replaced over the next five to seven years.
The picture below illustrates the urban forest streetscape that is the goal of the program with blossoms in the spring and vibrant colours in the fall.