Trees not Trains - Amend the Route!

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Headline “City Council Clear Cuts Hawrelak Park.”

That sounds completely ridiculous, However according to the City of Edmonton’s Tree Database there are 1,434 trees maintained by the city in Hawrelak Park and the city plans on removing 1,120 trees and possibly another 595 more along the LRT alignment. That’s exactly 281 more trees than there are in Hawrelak park today!

The City has promised to replant seedlings and re-landscape as part of the City’s “sustainable urban development plan”. This is misleading - what is replaced above ground cannot replicate what is below the earth. Any elementary school student will tell you that 40-50 percent of a tree’s biomass lies under the ground. Indeed, the biomass of that mature tree is what make those trees our most valuable green infrastructure.

Consider our large rare American Elms, just one of these trees can conserve over 483 KW of energy per year. Through their massive root systems, those trees protect us from flooding by filtering over 1,476 gallons of storm water annually and one tree removes 587.5 lbs of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. (source  YEG tree map) It should also be noted that large trees filter airborne pollutants including fine particles. Those large trees also provide habitat for wildlife in our city. 

In 2017, the Province of Alberta has catalogued and put a monetary value on American Elms in the province at $644 million. 50 percent of those Elms are in the City of Edmonton and were valued at $250Mn in 1999 (the last time that the City of Edmonton shared such data with the Province).  Urban forests do more than beautify the scenery. According to a 2014 TD Bank Special Report  on Urban Forests:

Trees represent an important investment in environmental condition, human health and the overall quality of life.

• The trees in the City of Toronto’s urban forest are worth an estimated $7 billion, or about $700 per tree.

• Toronto’s urban forest provides residents with over $80 million, or about $8 per-tree, worth of environmental benefits and cost savings each year. For the average single family household, this works out to $125 of savings per annum.

• For every dollar spent on annual maintenance, Toronto’s urban forest returns anywhere from $1.35 – $3.20 worth of benefits and cost savings each year.

• Maintaining the health of our urban forests is the best way to protect the value of our green investment.

I guess you could say money really does grow on trees! 

Our Urban Forests are shrinking in North America at a rate of 2 to 6 percent a year. We need to be advocates and protect our mature trees in growing cities like Edmonton. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization, is holding the first World’s Forum on Urban Forests … let’s hope Edmonton is held up as the city who got it all right, not the city that got it all wrong. 

We believe Edmontonians deserve proper environmental stewardship, fiscal accountability, safe, walkable and family friendly neighbourhoods and government transparency.  The current route chosen for Valley Line West LRT creates a swath of destruction of up to 1,700 trees, including rare large Elm trees.  It divides neighbourhoods, creating dangerous traffic patterns around schools and playgrounds.  Engagement implies that residents have been involved in the selection of the route, and the changes proposed for their neighbourhoods.  

Visit our website for more information or watch our video

A Better Way Forward - Move the Route!