More than 100 trees will be planted on Main Street medians between now and May 2024, providing numerous benefits to citizens, visitors and infrastructure for decades to come.
Mihali Schindle, the city’s Urban Forestry and Naturalization Coordinator, says trees enhance and improve other infrastructure by providing shade, cooling, and helping to manage stormwater. Studies show that asphalt road surfaces that are shaded from direct sunlight last longer.
“Trees have a lifecycle just like all other infrastructure, including roads and buildings, which must be maintained or replaced over time,” Schindle said.
“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.”
Mayor Larry Johannson says that the trees down Main Street are part of the street’s character as well as providing important natural infrastructure services.
“The trees on Main are an important design element of the street and add to the beauty of our community. I can’t imagine Main Street without them, so it’s important that we do this work now to ensure that as the old trees require removal, we have maturing trees on the way to replace them. It’s really about thinking long-term and having a vision for our city that extends into the future generations,” said Johannson.
Hundreds of new trees expand Selkirk’s urban canopy
Planting of new trees aligns with Selkirk’s Street Tree Policy and takes place annually, as budget permits. In total 126 new trees will be put into the ground between now and spring of 2024. But that’s not all.
“The city plans to plant hundreds of additional trees on residential boulevards throughout the city in the spring of 2024 and beyond. The final quantities, species, and locations will be determined over the winter months using the city’s street tree policy for guidance,” Schindle said.
The right trees, in the right place at the right time
Street trees have a hard life and selecting the right type of tree is crucial to their long-term survival. They exist in one of the harshest growing environments in the city due to poor water infiltration, salt accumulation, soil compaction and poor soil quality on medians.
The trees that are being planted along Main Street are Triumph and Brandon Elms and Silver Maples. The two former varieties are Dutch Elm Disease resistant and all three have the ability to survive in the difficult conditions on the street.
The Main Street trees have been planted between existing trees strategically, as identified in our street tree policy and will eventually replace the existing ones.
“Many existing trees are reaching the end of their life on Main Street and will require replacement over the next decade. Old trees will be removed as needed in the coming years to allow the newly established trees to fill the canopy space. Planting them now helps to ensure they are more mature and can replace the service of the existing trees when the old trees reach end of life,” Schindle said.
“The selected species are all considered large tree species with canopies that extend approximately 40-60 feet high and 30-50 feet wide. These trees will provide ample shade to the roadway on Main Street for future decades and numerous other environmental benefits.”
7,479 natural infrastructure assets inventoried
The importance of trees as part of the city’s infrastructure is apparent in the inclusion of an Urban Forestry Program in Selkirk’s award-winning Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Trees are considered natural infrastructure assets and are managed as such through the city’s Capital Asset Management Program as well. The city has inventoried its public trees and has set out standards for their maintenance and care along their entire life cycle from planting to removal.
Selkirk currently has 7,479 trees recorded, with 5,463 on public property and 2,016 in parks, and they represent 121 different varieties.