In 2015, Edmonton's urban forest was valued at $1.3 Billion dollars. Unlike "grey infrastructure" which depreciates over time, our trees are "green infrastructure" which appreciate in value the older and more established the urban forest becomes.
Some of the key benefits provided by mature trees include removing an estimated 531 tonnes of polutants from the air, reducing the effects of heat islands, mitigation and filtration of storm water runoff, and reducing energy for heating and cooling. Mature trees also provide habitat for wildlife in our city.
According to the Yeg Tree Map, the savings amount to over $30 million dollars a year for taxpayers.
According to the 2010 City of Edmonton report Urban Forest Management Plan, some elm trees have an estimated value of $65,000. According to the Province those elms could be worth an additional 35% - making the value of larger elms $ 88,750. In 2010, the City Of Edmonton committed to increasing the urban canopy from 10% to 20%.
This committment to increase the canopy of Edmonton's Urban Forest resulted in a new Corporate Tree Management Policy.
"Edmonton’s tree canopy, including all ornamental trees and natural treed areas on City property (with the exception of land which is under the jurisdiction of senior orders of government), will be procured, maintained, protected and preserved by the City. " City Policy #C456A
The trees to be removed along the West Valley LRT route have an assessed value which must be replaced at a cost to the taxpayer.
Will the LRT construction project be required to pay fair value according to it's own tree policy?
If so, how much?
Since this commitment was made to increase the urban tree canopy in Edmonton in 2010, what has really happened?
According to the City of Edmonton's Capital Profile Report for the most recent 2015-2018 buget cycle (p. 114 of 504), since the year 2000 Edmonton has lost 50,000 trees, and less than half of those trees have yet to be replaced. In addition, Edmonton looses over 2000 trees per year that require replacement.
We are losing our urban forests in Edmonton at a rate of about 0.5% annually over the last decade. Our unban canopy has been shrinking rather than growing.
Our investment of $1.3 billion dollars is being woefully mismanaged.
In 2009 when City Council choose the route for West Valley route it stated that the route would have little environmental impact. In addition, the design brochure issued in Fall 2017 shows mature trees and historcal homes, and states LRT is suppossed to
However, we now know that this is not the case. The City of Edmonton released the report on the Valley Line West LRT - Impact to Heritage Homes and Trees, on June 14, 2018, it states that building the West Valley Line may require the removal of up to more than 1700 trees. Add to this number the untold number of trees removed for the Southern portion of the Valley Line (not currently
disclosed by the city), and that number grows exponentially. Consider that there are just under 1500 trees in Hawrelak park, the City will clear cut twice that amount for LRT.
How is this sustainable development?
About 60% of the largest trees scheduled for removal along the chosen LRT are American Elms unaffected by Dutch Elm Disease. Alberta has the largest concentrations of large American Elm in North America. According to the Province, Edmonton has 50% of those Elms worth over $250 million* (inventory not updated by the City since 1999).
On June 18, 2018 the report on West Valley LRT - Impact to Heritage Homes and Trees was recommended passed and Mayor Iveson stated that adequate environmental stewardship was provided.
How is this proper environmental stewardship?
Why won't the city follow its own corporate tree policy to protect mature trees and enhance the urban canopy?
Ask for transparency from your elected officials.