The City of Selkirk will receive $1.8 million through the Canada/Manitoba Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) to improve its urban canopy throughout the city, along sidewalks and active transportation trails. The full project cost is $2.5 million with the city’s portion being $666,750.
The Government of Canada is investing more than $21 million in nine Manitoba projects through the Community, Culture, and Recreation Infrastructure Stream and the Green Infrastructure Stream of the ICIP.
The Government of Manitoba is investing over $4.8 million, and other funding partners are contributing over $26.9 million toward eligible project costs combined.
Natural assets are important infrastructure
Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson says trees are a natural asset and an important part of the city’s infrastructure.
“We’re grateful for this funding and we will put it to good use,” Johannson said.
“The benefits of trees to a community are limitless and enhancing our urban forest is right in line with our Climate Change Adaptation Plan, our Strategic Plan and our Street Tree Policy, so we’re ticking a lot of boxes here.”
The Mayor said the city applied for several grants under ICIP, including Eveline Street reconstruction, a new recreation centre to replace the Barn, but those were not approved.
“We appreciate the funding we received but also want our citizens to know that we applied for other projects that are priority projects for the city but they were not approved by the other levels of government,” Johannson said.
The city also had to move its allotment of ICIP transit funding of over $500,000 into the urban canopy funding, meaning less funding for Selkirk Transit, at the request of the provincial government.
The right trees in the right places at the right time
CAO Duane Nicol said the funding, which will be spread out over five years, will enable the city to continue its leadership role in developing its urban canopy, which aligns with the city’s award winning Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The city also has a Street Tree Policy that will ensure the right trees are planted in the right places.
“The city began its tree inventory in 2019 and that has helped us understand the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s urban forest right now and helps us plan for the future, what kind of trees we should be purchasing and planting and where we should be planting them,” Nicol said.
“This funding will enable us to operationalize our Street Tree Policy which has an evaluation criteria that gives priority to particular areas, so we’ll plant trees where they’re going to have maximum value.”
Dan McDermid, Director of Operations, said the Street Tree Policy has a priority list the city will follow. This year, various species will be planted on Sophia Street from Manchester to Selkirk; Robinson from Sophia to Mercy; Manitoba from Jemima to Main and Annie to Eaton and on Agnes from McLean to Manitoba.
They’ll also work tree planting in with other work taking place according to the Capital Asset Management Plan.
“If we’re ripping up a street to put in new infrastructure, we may be able to put trees in at that time so we’re improving what’s under the street, the street itself and then enhancing the urban canopy all at the same time,” McDermid said.
Building a climate resilient Selkirk
Trees are nice to look at, but they have value far beyond the visual – they clean the air by sequestering carbon, they give off fresh oxygen, they reduce storm water run off, they reduce the ambient air temperature mitigating the urban heat island effect and thus reduce demand on air conditioning systems. Trees also provide shade that’s important to the lifespan of city streets, and trees near roads have been shown to naturally calm traffic.
“Trees have dramatic and diverse positive impacts for a city, but it takes years to see the full benefit of a tree. This is why we’ve made the strategic planting of trees a top priority in our Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. As the aphorism goes, A society grows great when its leaders plant trees under whose shade they shell never sit,” Nicol said.
“Managing and growing our urban forest is a vital part of our vision for a more livable, climate resilient Selkirk.”