City looks to ex­pand plant­ing

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - TORONTO - Gilbert Ngabo

Toronto is eye­ing pri­vate prop­erty in its quest to in­crease the ur­ban tree canopy.

A re­port head­ing to the city’s parks and en­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee next week will de­tail a pos­si­ble ex­pan­sion of the part­ner­ship be­tween the city and Local En­hance­ment and Ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Forests (LEAF), of­fer­ing more free trees on pri­vate prop­erty. Fund­ing would be sub­mit­ted to fu­ture bud­get plan­ning as part of the city’s Tree Plant­ing Strat­egy.

The non-profit has op­er­ated in the GTA for 20 years, help­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, school boards and pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als plant and take care of trees. But it was only last year that coun­cil ap­proved a par­tial grant of $50,000 for LEAF to help with pri­vate prop­erty plant­ings, tree main­te­nance and ed­u­ca­tional out­reach pro­grams. The grant was in­creased to $100,000 in 2017.

“We’ve been run­ning this pro­gram through small grants patched from here and there, so I’m re­ally ex­cited that there’s the will on coun­cil to sup­port ef­forts on pri­vate prop­erty for tree canopy,” said LEAF’S ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Janet Mckay.

“Most mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are find­ing that pri­vate prop­erty of­fers the most po­ten­tial in terms of new plant­ing space,” she said, not­ing Toronto has done “a great job” of plant­ing on pub­lic spa­ces through its street treeplant­ing pro­grams.

Pri­vate prop­er­ties such as back­yards and green space at multi-unit res­i­den­tial build­ings of­fer sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages, said Mckay: There’s more soil, fewer stresses from util­i­ties over­head and un­der­ground and a lower chance of van­dal­ism.

The city’s goal is to achieve 40 per cent tree canopy, but the city’s cov­er­age cur­rently stands at about 27 per cent.

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