Calgary’s parks department reported to a city committee Wednesday morning about progress in a three-year, $35-million plan to deal with “Snowtember” damage, which broke or destroyed about half of the city’s trees in 2014.
Snowtember was the biggest summer snow storm the city saw in the last 130 years. About 30 centimetres of snow fell on top of leafy trees, which couldn’t handle the weight. In 2015, the parks department pruned about a third of the damaged trees; in 2016 they plan to prune another third – about 80,000 trees.
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The pruning reduces the wound size from the breaks on the branches, which prevents disease so more trees aren’t lost in the future.
“The quicker we can get it done, the better,” parks manager Nico Bernard said, who noted some trees are so big it takes half a day to prune them. “So far so good, we haven’t seen a huge uptake in any of the big tree diseases but that’s always a concern and that’s always something we try to prevent.”
There’s a program called ReTree YYC available in 25 communities, where the city is planting new trees in open spaces on public land.
Crews will add 9,000 new trees this year, in order to rebuild Calgary’s urban forest.
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Crews with city contractor Precise Pruning were trimming a snow-damaged ash tree owned by the city in front of Robert Murray’s home in Temple Wednesday.
“It was right over the bicycle path, so there was a bit of danger there,” Murray said. “It was fairly damaged – there were a lot of limbs broken and that sort of thing.”
Precise Pruning’s contract is keeping 25 Calgarians working year-round —; not just seasonally.
That’s welcome in a tight economy.
“We’re tree guys, and we don’t like to see the storm damage, but it most definitely has helped some companies prosper,” foreman Mark Wheadon said.
He said before Snowtember, many trees were overdue for some attention. The multi-million dollar prune is a chance to deal with more than just the snow damage.
“We get that beetle addressed, you’re getting the … scale on the elms addressed more now because of money that is in the budget. It is a very good thing,” Wheadon said.