The City of Selkirk will remove seven trees from Selkirk Park Campground after an assessment determined they posed a high risk to the safety of visitors to the area.
The trees will be removed immediately and prior to the opening of the campground on May 19.
Brady Clark, Director of Culture, Recreation and Green Transportation, said the removal is a safety issue and is a result of the city actively managing its urban canopy through maintenance and upkeep, which includes the removal of trees at the end of their life.
“The risk assessment showed that these trees were compromised due to decay and a strong wind could topple them. Knowing they pose a potential danger the decision was made to remove them,” Clark said.
The city’s tree inventory collects basic information including condition assessments on all trees in city parks and on boulevards. Several trees in the campground were identified through the assessment as showing signs of deterioration. There has also been an increase in the number of broken trees in the park caused by wind or storm events.
Structural damage poses threat to public safety
Provincial funding enabled the city to contract Davey Resource Group to conduct a thorough tree risk assessment in the campground this March with the goal of identifying trees that posed a risk to residents of the city and visitors to the campground.
Forty-eight trees were assessed and of those, seven were identified as being high risk and recommended for removal, seven were in need of significant pruning and 34 were considered low risk.
Five of the trees will be removed by a contractor due to their size while the other two will be removed by trained city staff.
The trees will be removed from May 16-18 and sections of Selkirk Park may be closed for periods of time to ensure public safety.
Trees are critical infrastructure and provide services to citizens
Mihali Schindle, Urban Forestry and Naturalization Coordinator with the city’s Parks and Rec division, says trees embellish and improve other infrastructure by providing shade, cooling, and stormwater management.
“Trees have a lifecycle just like all other infrastructure, including roads and buildings, which must be maintained or replaced over time. However, trees are unique because they are living infrastructure that require special attention and care. They take years to reach their full potential, but how we manage our trees will create a safe and sustainable environment for citizens and future generations.”
Selkirk CAO Duane Nicol noted that the city’s integration of trees into the city’s asset management program is part of the City delivering on its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
“Not only do trees mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon, but they also help us adapt to the changing climate by reducing heat stress and absorbing storm water. We have already seen an increase in the intensity of summer storms – which is why removing trees that pose elevated risk of failure and safety concerns is more important than ever. By actively managing our urban canopy we can reduce risk but also increase the climate action benefits of trees,” said Nicol.
Trees will not be removed without just cause
The city doesn’t take removing a tree lightly and does all it can to keep older trees in place. The city follows International Society of Arboriculture assessment parameters and methodologies, the national standard for tree care, maintenance and assessments, along with monitoring tree condition over time as part of the city’s street tree inventory.
The city’s Street Tree Policy, which includes trees in city parks, states that trees will not be removed without just cause. It also states that structurally damaged trees posing a threat to public safety require emergency removal.
The 48 trees selected for assessment showed signs of visible defects, including decay on the root crown, trunk, or canopy. Because the campsites and playground are in the immediate vicinity of the trees that will be removed, there is a high risk because campers are in the area throughout the summer months consistently.
The city plans to replace the trees over time as suitable trees can be secured. As part of the replacement process, the city will use its Street Tree policy to select trees that are best fit for the location as well as introducing a variety of species to increase the benefits of a bio-diverse urban canopy.