City looks to expand planting
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.