Tree canopy policy passed

Duane Hicks

Fort Frances now has a tree canopy policy in place to provide the town with a guideline for effectively managing, sustaining, and ensuring the growth of its tree canopy in an “arboriculturally-sound and cost-effective manner.”
In accordance with changes to the Municipal Act last year, the town had to adopt a policy on how the municipality planned to maintain and enhance its tree canopy in place by March 1, 2019.
The Operations and Facilities and Planning and Development divisions worked together on the new policy, which was approved by council at its regular meeting Monday night.
The policy presents a strategy for the development of a sustainable urban forest that is capable of surviving well into the future.
According to the policy, the town will endeavour to maintain and enhance its municipal tree canopy through the adoption of a “no net loss” practice when it comes to its municipal trees;
Where it is required for a tree to be removed to facilitate road reconstruction, the tree has been damaged, is dead, or diseased, the tree poses a threat to residential or municipal property, or the tree falls on town property, the town will replace said tree with a new tree in a suitable location so as to not impact municipal infrastructure.
The tree may not be placed in the same location from which it was taken. As well, the town will try to replace the tree within one year of removal depending on budget availability.
The town also will consult an arborist to prepare and have in place an installation specification document for the proper installation of trees within the town boulevards.
The specification will include areas of town that could see an increase in the tree canopy, as well as those areas where there should not be additional plantings.
The policy also suggests:
•native tree species to be planted to minimize impacts to infrastructure in the vicinity of the tree;
•the town will not install trees within municipal boulevards;
•the town will investigate new technologies for tree planting to mitigate risk to the town’s infrastructure (all trees planted in proximity of infrastructure that could be impacted will be done so following proper engineering specifications to mitigate damage);
•the town will require the inclusion of trees within all site plan control and subdivision applications; and
•the town encourages its residents to install trees within the 7.5-metre front yard setback between the boulevard and front of their house.
‘Memorial’ trees
The policy also offers the public a chance to help enhance the town’s tree canopy by having the town start a “memorial tree program” similar to the one already offered for memorial benches seen along the La Verendrye Parkway.
“This would allow for a memorial tree to be planted at an approved location on municipal property,” Operations and Facilities manager Travis Rob wrote in a report to council.
“Similar to the bench program, the person(s) requesting the tree would be responsible to pay for the tree and plaque, with the town forces completing the planting of the tree,” he noted.
The proponent asking for the tree will submit an application to the town.
The town, at its own cost, will replace the tree if it dies within two years of planting. The location, species, and time of planting will be determined in conjunction with the town’s Operations and Facilities division.
As far as who’s responsible for what, the Operations and Facilities division will be in charge of pruning trees within and adjacent to municipal land when they interfere with the safe use and maintenance of municipal roads and sidewalks.
The same division will take complaints of nuisance, diseased, and dead/dying trees within the municipal right-of-way and properties and removes the trees as manpower is available.
The Planning and Development division, meanwhile, is in charge of ensuring the inclusion of trees in development proposals through the municipal planner while issues surrounding nuisance trees and hedges on private property will be handled by bylaw enforcement.
The Fort Frances Power Corp. will continue to trim trees in areas of high-voltage primary lines, low-voltage secondary lines, and street light lines, as well as the trimming or removal of trees on private property that may involve FFPC services.
Town residents must comply with the town’s tree installation guide and the tree maintenance and installation bylaw, which will be forthcoming in the near future.
Looking ahead, the new bylaw regarding tree maintenance and installation will come through the Planning and Development executive committee in the coming weeks.