A plan to plant 150 mature trees in Strathmore funded by a grant is being postponed for a year until budgetary concerns are met.
The town was awarded a TD Green Space Grant, following an application made by Councillor Jason Montgomery. The grant provided the town with $22,865 to plant 150 trees in Strathmore. However, a report from Donna McCallum, Town of Strathmore horticulturist, raised questions about the budgetary impacts of planting the trees, because of the five years of subsequent maintenance they would require.
Every year, the per tree cost of maintenance, including watering, fertilizing, pruning and watering, was calculated to be $493.70. Thus, each year, $74,055 would be required for the maintenance of the 150 trees.
The town’s budget provides for $15,000 per year for tree purchasing and maintenance. This means added maintenance costs in subsequent years could compromise the town’s ability to plant new trees, pay for other projects such as planting flowers in garden beds downtown, or retaining specialized contracted services, including arborists and irrigation technicians, said McCallum.
“Because we’re not in budget yet and know that it’s going to be extraordinarily tight this year, this is a big concern that (McCallum) identified,” said Councillor Denise Peterson. “From a personal perspective, from a health perspective and community, I’d much rather have 150 trees than flowers, but I also know that we’ve gone to tremendous lengths to improve the downtown, so it’s a dilemma.”
In response to this concern, council passed a motion to postpone the planting program until 2021.
Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times