The city’s Urban Forestry and Naturalization division is involved in all phases of tree life, from planting new trees to dealing with others at the end of their life.
The city’s Street Tree Policy states that street trees will not be removed without just cause. It also states that structurally damaged trees posing a threat to public safety require emergency removal.
Staff skilled, efficient and friendly
Two recent emergency situations in which trees needed to be removed as a matter of public safety have shone a light on the skill and efficiency of the city’s Urban Forestry and Naturalization staff.
Long-time resident Linda Rosser saw how a lightning strike one July evening destroyed a tree in Little Lake Park in literally the blink of an eye. Concerned for the safety of children who would be in the park in the coming days, she contacted the city the next morning to tell them the splintered and fallen tree posed a danger.
“They came so fast,” Rosser said, noting an eight-person crew showed up in less than an hour.
Mihali Schindle, Urban Forestry and Naturalization Coordinator, went to see Rosser and told her the plan to remove the tree and put caution tape around the area until work was completed to keep people away and safe.
Rosser says the city called her later that day and kept her informed about the schedule for removal, telling her work would begin first thing the next morning. It did, and later that day all signs of the tree were gone.
Rosser was impressed with the city’s performance that day and continues to be.
“If the workers are in the area and see me they stop and say hi and that’s really nice,” she said.
“I was impressed with what the city did that day and they continue to impress me.”
Gord Henrikson called the city in October to let staff know an evergreen on the boulevard near his home was dead and a potential danger to passersby.
In this case, removal was contracted out and the tree removed quickly and professionally, prompting Henrikson to reach out and commend the city.
In an email to the city he wrote:
“I just wanted to follow up with you and thank you and the city for the great job you did with the tree removal by our house,” Henrikson wrote.
“The tree service showed up and the two employees were very professional and pleasant to deal with. They did excellent work and the cleanup was great and they should be commended for their work.
“The other morning, I noticed that the tree stump had already been ground down and cleaned up, as well. Again, the work and clean up was so good, I didn’t even notice it the day that it happened! Thank you again, this was a great experience all around! Great work!”
Urban forestry program a top priority
Selkirk CAO, Duane Nicol, says that active management of the city’s urban forestry is a new program that has been created as a result of the city’s award-winning Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
“The strategy identified the creation of an Urban Forestry program as a top priority, and over the last three years we have done the work to get the program created. Internally, we are very proud of the work that Mihali and the whole team have done. It’s exciting to see that citizens are recognizing the benefits of this new program as well,” Nicol said.
While emergency situations do arise, Schindle says the city is continually monitoring its tree inventory and collects basic information including condition assessments on all trees in city parks and on boulevards.
When one is in poor health and posing a potential threat to public safety, they move quickly to take it down.
Earlier this spring seven trees were removed from the Selkirk Park Campground after assessment showed just that. The trees had significant decay and there was concern that a strong wind could topple them.
In March, a 75-year-plus-old Manitoba Maple in Veterans Memorial Park also had to be taken down. The city assessed that tree over the course of a year to determine that removal was the best option. In the case of the Manitoba Maple, trunk decay, branch dieback, tree age, wind load on weak branches and environmental factors were the primary concerns.
The condition of the tree, likelihood of structural failure, and proximity to park visitors made it a safety concern.
Tree removal not taken lightly
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.