October 29, 2015 - 10:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - Kamloops is looking to get a little greener by planting more trees and upping the canopy cover around the city.
The plan would see additional tree planting on boulevards, in urban spaces and in city parks with a goal of increasing the canopy cover to 20 per cent from the current 12 per cent.
Coun. Donovan Cavers dubs the goal as '20 per cent by 2020' — a timeline he suggests for the project.
Parks operation supervisor Shawn Cook says the city’s 16,000 trees should be seen for their broad benefits. Research suggests trees increase the overall health and wellness of residents in cities.
While many understand how trees help the environment by eliminating carbon dioxide and improving arid climate conditions, Cook wants residents to understand their economic benefits as well.
He says Kamloopsians need to start seeing their canopy cover as a tangible resource, adding trees are one of the only city assets that appreciate in value. According to a report for council, the city’s park and boulevard trees are valued at $6.8 million.
Cook says a major challenge to the 20 per cent plan are the current municipal bylaws. He says it is too easy and far too inexpensive for residents to cut down a tree. A large, old boulevard tree could be valued at $20,000 but it costs only between $5,000 to $6,000 to cut it down.
He says the most common reasons people apply to cut down a city tree are that it is an obstacle during construction, obstructs a view or it creates a general messiness, particularly in the fall.
At a workshop this week councillors suggested a greater discounted tree coupon to encourage more people to plant. Currently, coupons offering a $20 discount are available annually on a first come first serve basis.
The city has a handful of other tree planting initiatives, including the residential boulevard tree program. Residents can also sign a petition asking for additional canopy cover in their neighbourhood and the city has an aspen replanting program to replace trees destroyed by pine beetles. In both instances, homeowners have to agree to irrigate boulevard trees.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015