I received an email from reader Elizabeth McKee concerned about the health of the large chestnut trees lining the streets near her neighbourhood.
McKee says the area around West 39th Avenue and Larch looks like "autumn" because the trees are so brown. McKee first noticed the problem several years ago, but says it appears to be spreading. She was concerned enough to contact Sophie Dessureault, who heads up the park board's integrated pest management program.
Dessureault told me Wednesday the trees are sick with rust mites, an increasing problem across the city. She adds these large horse chestnut trees appear to be particularly vulnerable to damage from the mites.
"We noticed it several years ago, but became concerned about it three years ago," says Dessureault. "These trees are literally turning rust coloured."
August has always been tough on horse chestnuts, which are susceptible to drought, Dessureault explains. She adds they're also vulnerable to a pathogen that causes leaf blotch. "We were used to seeing some blotchiness, but all of a sudden they're going completely off colour," says Dessureault.
She says the leaf blotch combined with drought, rust mites and urban construction, which puts pressure on the roots of trees and causes stress, is a recipe for disaster. She adds not one of those problems alone is enough to kill a huge chestnut tree, but the combination is taking its toll.
"Are we going to lose some trees? We might because it could just be too much for them," says Dessureault.
Parks staff have tried several methods to rid the trees of the mites, including soap sprays and introducing predatory mites. The good news is Dessureault recently found some of the predatory mites applied to the trees last year are still alive. That means they managed to survive the winter and reproduce. The problem is, horse chestnuts are so massive it might take a while for the predatory mites to gain control.
"We're seeing it all across the city now," says Dessureault. "It might turn out to be cyclical, but for now we're not sure what's causing it."
With the addition of 13 new Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicles, the City of Vancouver now claims to be the greenest municipal fleet in Canada.
At a news conference Wednesday Shin Fujioka, president of Mitsubishi Canada, joined Vision Vancouver park board chair Sarah Blyth to unveil the first seven of the fleet. The remaining vehicles will be delivered by the end of the year. "The shift to a greener fleet supports the park board's new strategic plan priority to be a leader in going green," Blyth said in a news release.
During a conversation with me Tuesday, Blyth was much more to the point. "They're really cool and will go a long way to help the park board meet some of the goals of the city's Greenest Action Plan."
This Sunday, Killarney Community Centre is a hosting a Powerchair Soccer for Beginners session.
Powerchair soccer, a.k.a. powerchair football, is played indoors but the rules are similar to the outdoor game. According to the Canadian Paralympic Committee, powerchair soccer is a fast paced, competitive sport for persons with disabilities who use an electric wheelchair.
Registration for this event is closed, but the organizers are still looking for volunteers. Anyone interested in participating in powerchair soccer can receive more information by calling Margaret at 604-251-2030, emailing email@example.com or visiting vancouverpowersoccer.webs. com.