At the Ecological Services of the Forest conference in St. John’s last week, Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary struck up a collaboration with Memorial University to improve the city’s forests.
At the regular council meeting on Monday, O’Leary said she spoke with Dalhousie University’s Peter Duinker, an urban forestry expert, about what is making Halifax so successful in encouraging forests in the urban environment. He said it was the collaboration with the university.
“We have collaboration with the university in many different ways, especially in terms of international students and economic development, but in terms of urban forestry I don’t think that we’ve really gone down that road,” O’Leary told reporters after the council meeting.
She said she spoke with Memorial University’s Carissa Brown, who was eager to collaborate with the city on such initiatives. They now have a meeting arranged in two weeks’ time, including the city’s arborist.
“I’m looking for ways that we can improve our urban forestry here in the city, not just because of beautification — we know that it makes a more beautiful community — but because of carbon sequestration. This is a big issue for climate change.”
O’Leary said her first goal would be to plant more trees in the city.
“In areas that we know have been harvested for past development errors, in my opinion. There’s areas that certainly we’ve seen a lot of clear-cutting happen in order to accommodate new housing.”
She said the city needs to “undo our past mistakes,” and pointed to neighbourhoods such as Kenmount Terrace, Southlands and Pleasantville as places that could use more trees.
O’Leary said collaborating with experts at the university will be beneficial for the city.
“I’m very excited about that, and again, setting seeds — excuse the pun — about how we can proliferate an urban forest in our city.”