I not only heard back from the park board regarding the health of young trees across the city, but also from several more readers concerned that many of them appear to be dying from a lack of water this summer.
Those residents are frustrated by what they perceive to be a lack of maintenance, including watering, by park board staff. Each year the park board puts out a call to residents to help water young street and boulevard trees during the dry summer months.
Park board spokesperson Joyce Courtney says young trees are maintained and watered by parks staff for the first two years, after which it's assumed they'll be strong enough to survive. The trees also have mulch placed around their roots to reduce the amount of water they need.
Courtney says the average mortality rate for young trees is three per cent and adds weather and disease, such as powdery mildew, play a role. I recently wrote in this column about the damage rust mites are causing to trees across the city. Courtney notes that while some trees may look like they're on their last leg due to "drought-induced dormancy," once our rainy weather returns (ugh), most will thrive again.
Courtney says parks staff will plant 3,000 more street trees this year at a cost of $375 each. The city has approximately 140,000 street trees and that number is expected to double by 2020, when the city hopes to gain the status of the greenest city in the world.
It's planned that of those 150,000, one-third will be street trees, one-third will be planted in parks and other public property and the rest on private property. Staff is identifying locations where new street trees will be planted in preparation for the winter planting season. Courtney says separate planning is underway to develop additional habitat areas in parks focusing on native plant species. Plans are also underway to find room for new trees at Mountain View Cemetery and on civic golf courses. These trees will further help develop biodiversity. Staff will work with private not-for-profit partners to plant trees on private property.
The annual budget for the planting program is $650,000 from the park board's capital budget. This year, $67,400 was added to the current budget for maintenance of these new trees, of which two-thirds are grown on the park board's Langley tree farm. As the project to plant the 150,000 trees moves forward, Courtney says adequate maintenance budgets will be requested through the operating budget.
Regular swimmers at Lord Byng Pool will be happy to know the facility reopened to the public Sept. 4. I wrote a couple of stories recently about swimmers unhappy the pool would be closed all summer due to major maintenance, but hopefully the improvements will make the closure worthwhile.
A group of neighbours recently formed the Fraserlands Community Gardening Group with goals to establish a community garden in that neighbourhood, and to recruit more volunteers to get involved.
I recently wrote about the efforts of this dedicated group of neighbours who are working diligently to reclaim and beautifying the pedestrian/cycling pathway that runs along Kent Avenue, parallel to the train tracks between Kerr and Elliott streets.
Now the group wants to start a community garden and is looking for feedback through an online survey at surveymonkey.com/s/7NP9GHM now through Oct. 15, where if you take the survey makes you eligible to win a prize. The group has also launched a Facebook page under Fraserlands Community Gardening Group.