Burnaby looking at free boulevard trees program

Ever look outside and see a bare boulevard and wonder where the trees are?

The City of Burnaby is looking at extending an olive branch to property owners to answer that question with free trees. In a report to the financial planning committee, city staff proposed a “#tree4free” program that, if approved, will see the city planting trees on boulevards on request by property owners.

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Other cities across Canada have similar free boulevard tree planting programs, staff noted in a report, adding boulevard trees are a “strong part” of the city’s climate action and adaptation strategies.

Currently, the city mostly increases its urban tree canopy through capital projects, like the sidewalk expansion program, and through development approvals.

Staff listed nine benefits to the city in expanding the tree canopy, including improved city greenspace, reduced storm water impact, more shade in public spaces during summer heat waves, reduced energy use for cooling in summers, improved public health and equity, expanded biodiversity, improved air quality, aesthetic improvements to neighbourhoods and lower net carbon emissions.

The program would initially come with a $200,000 budget, allowing about 300 new trees per year, according to the staff report, but that budget could be adjusted in future years depending on how much interest the program generates.

The program would apply to residential, commercial and industrial property owners, and after the city has been contacted, staff would assess the area for feasibility, suitable tree species and the number of potential trees.

The city expects to promote the program starting this month and into March 2021, with applications available from January to March 2021. The city would confirm tree locations in April and plant the 300 new trees between October 2021 and February 2022. That process is expected to repeat annually.

The report has not yet made it to city council for final approval.

Follow Dustin on Twitter at @dustinrgodfrey

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