Are we losing beneficial urban tree canopies in Kamloops, Okanagan? | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Are we losing beneficial urban tree canopies in Kamloops, Okanagan?

This photo shows a development underway in Kamloops earlier this year.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Keiran Rankin

A Kamloops resident is speaking out about the need for our cities to preserve urban trees.

Substitute teacher Keiran Rankin said he has always been interested in supporting the health of his community and environment and has been closely monitoring the welfare of local trees for over a decade.

He said street trees provide many environmental improvements, from soaking up carbon dioxide and keeping communities cool during the summers, to providing homes for birds, bugs and bats, and beautifying our neighbourhoods.

Rankin said removing street trees can cause the urban heat island effect, where cities tend to be hotter than the surrounding landscape.

“The cause of this is the removal of vegetation, especially trees, and their replacement with surfaces that heat up more easily like roads and buildings,” he said. “The most effective way to cool our neighbourhoods is to plant more trees and to carefully conserve the trees that we do have.”

READ MORE: Kill a City of Kelowna tree and face hefty fines

Rankin said large trees with mature canopies that cast a wide shadow of shady coolness are the most effective, and he fears the city is losing large trees faster than they are being replaced. He said most of the trees that have been planted in the city are not native tree species and will not reach the same size.

“Many large cottonwoods have been removed from along the river’s edge,” he said. “They are hugely important to the Cottonwood Riparian ecosystem of the Southern Interior, a zone that has been greatly impacted by the development of cities like Kamloops and Kelowna.”

READ MORE: Iconic tree wizards rescued and put on display in Kamloops

Rankin said a current concern is that many of the trees on Tranquille are doomed to be removed during upcoming sidewalk renovations.

“More needs to be done, not only to ensure that we plant more trees but that we conserve the large native trees that we currently have,” he said.

Coun. Bill Sarai said the topic of urban trees has come up in council and is discussed regularly.

“This is a major topic for us,” he said. “We want to preserve our old trees and keep increasing our canopy through planting. We want partnerships with the university, corporations and residents so we can find effective ways to work together to increase our shade and improve air quality.”

Sarai said every spring the City partners up with Art Knapp so residents can get a coupon to purchase a tree for fifty dollars off.

“Not only do residents get shade trees to plant but as a city we have more people who are taking care of beneficial trees,” he said. “We always run out of coupons so we know there is an interest and demand there and want to provide more coupons in the future. We get back much more than the initial cost.”

While Sarai confirmed there is a risk of trees being removed during an upcoming sidewalk renovation on Tranquille, he said he is comfortable with the abilities of the North Shore Business Improvement Association that is overseeing the project.

“The association members are experts on how to do this as part of the ongoing beautification of the North Shore,” Sarai said. “If it comes down to having to remove a tree I am sure that tree will be replaced and moved out of the way of sidewalk traffic.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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