Tiny logs tree canopy and commemorative bench program as official

·4 min read

Making a poplar bench commemoration and tree canopy program 'fir real' is nothing to shake a stick at.

Tiny Township staff provided an overview of a report, which proposed an official designation for the development of a tree canopy policy of township parks, playgrounds and other public spaces, and to promote the commemorative tree and bench program.

Public works director Tim Leitch first spoke to the origin of the policy during a recent committee of the whole meeting.

“It was raised when we cut trees down (and asked) what do we do to manage and maintain our healthy canopy,” stated Leitch.

The Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA), Awenda Park and County of Simcoe forestry department were consulted, in addition to staff maintaining a responsibility under provincial Bill 68, which reads that a municipality protects and enhances its tree canopy and natural vegetation.

“One of the things that isn’t in the report, as we discussed this with the SSEA, is our seedling program,” Leitch stated. “There have been 27,000 trees -- within the watershed, not just Tiny -- since 2007 on that program. That’s a huge amount of trees."

The report offered two options to council, with a tree-cutting bylaw being considered but not supported by staff.

“I know there were some concerns that were raised about residential properties cutting trees,” Leitch shared. “Urban areas do have rules for cutting trees down, but in a rural area -- in consultation with some of our sources -- this is something that we don’t really want to get into. Anything over a hectare has to be managed by the county anyway.”

Leitch remarked that Tiny’s expenses on tree management “between roadside brushing and tree cutting” especially with diseases are a significant amount at approximately $96,000 per year.

By passing the motion on the tree canopy program and bench and tree commemoration program through the second option provided in the report, Leitch said that the conformity to Bill 68 would be made official.

Option two recommended continuing the following:

- Strategic 5 Year Plan. - Volunteer Arboretum with staff support. - Bench and Tree Commemorative Program. - Parks and Recreation Master Plan implementation. - County Forest Management Plans for harvesting permits. - Community engagement through Committees of Council for park and municipal property development as it relates to tree management. - Removal of dangerous/hazard trees due to disease or road visibility needs. - Continue efforts and support with experts from SSEA, County and Ministry bodies for best practice and innovative ideas for forest management and pest/disease control. - Leave natural wooded areas allowing dead fall (non-safety) to remain and natural process of forest regeneration. - Manage beaver population as it relates to flooding, infrastructure impacts, excessive tree removal and property damage. - Leaving tree stumps or partial trunks “trap trees/logs” to assist in erosion and also habitat/food source for birds and animals that utilize dead trees. - Removal of dead branches that may impact public safety. - Continue arboretum and seedling program.

Coun. Cindy Hastings raised a question about best practices as it appeared halfway down the list, concerned that new residents to Tiny from outside the township may want to clear trees to facilitate building and septic systems.

Leitch agreed, noting that accessibility drives up construction costs which is within the township’s concern. He acknowledged the suggestion by Hastings that new residents receive a best practices supplement, especially in regards to planting native species.

“But I’m also being very cautious,” said Leitch. “Any enforcement of that would be very difficult. We’d be stepping our toes into getting a forester on staff, and we feel with our current canopy that it’s not necessary.”

Hastings responded, “I think it’s always better to start with best practices rather than legislation and bylaws.”

The commemorative tree and bench program was briefly touched upon by Leitch, who encouraged continued public support, noting that Tiny staff would find solutions to residents wanting to use the program.

According to the township website, “the commemorative tree and bench program is available for anyone who wishes to give a lasting legacy to the Township of Tiny. Benches are constructed by a local company and come with a bench plaque. Trees come with a plaque and are locally sourced native species that will add to the natural habitat of your preferred planting location.”

Option two was passed by council with an additional emphasis on best practices for residents.

Information on the commemorative tree and bench program, including guidelines and a request form, can be found on the parks and trails page of the Tiny Township website.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

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