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  • Writer's pictureDouglas W. Judson

Council Declines to Reconsider Tree Policy

At tonight’s meeting of Council, I asked to have our municipal tree policy referred to committee for review and updating, following numerous concerns and complaints I have received about the lack of trees in much of the residential areas of the community and the risk of further tree loss along boulevards.

Unfortunately, Council declined this request.

The current tree policy is unpopular because it does nothing to protect trees on private property or located on the boulevard abutting people’s homes. When removed, these trees are not replaced in these locations.

Trees serve practical, aesthetic, and ecological purposes. They are a natural safety barrier between pedestrians and traffic, they assist with the absorption of water, and they help to regulate temperatures in adjacent buildings.

Mature trees also add significant value to property, and many property owners have incurred losses as a result of the municipality removing trees from or abutting their property. Both Second Street and Scott Street have seen significant tree removal in recent years.

Ontario municipalities are required by section 270(1)7 of the Municipal Act, 2001 to have a tree canopy policy. The policy in Fort Frances calls for planting replacement trees in public locations, but offers little protection to property owners whose trees are removed. Many residents feel it does not appropriately prioritize the protection of trees.

Many Ontario municipalities have more comprehensive and tree-friendly policies than Fort Frances. This was raised as one reason the policy should be re-considered, but Council declined to refer the request to committee. It will now be up to the next Council to determine whether to act.

Rainy River District Stewardship maintains an online map of Fort Frances trees. You can find it here.

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