The cherry trees on Canada Avenue in Duncan are in full bloom this April, 2021. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Editorial: Time to put trees on the agenda

Trees make communities better.

Let’s talk trees.

It’s no coincidence that many of the most desirable neighbourhoods in our communities are lined with trees, either on the sides of the road or down the middle on boulevards. Trees make communities better.

Trees clean the air for us. They provide shade and thus free temperature modulation in the summer. They provide shelter to people and animals alike. They are also beautiful, vastly improving the concrete jungles we erect in which to live and work. Who doesn’t love the cherry trees on Canada Avenue when they are in full bloom in spring? Or the plethora of pink blossoms that cheer up the Trans Canada Highway through Duncan?

Our communities have been taking trees more seriously in recent years. Duncan has a tree protection bylaw, so that these community assets can’t just be chopped down on a whim. Communities have also been putting in new trees, or replacing problematic ones, like the American sweet gums that will be coming down in Duncan, to have new, more suitable ones put in their place. There are a great many options available that make it easier for towns and homeowners alike if they are worried about space constraints or root infiltration. There are many small varieties of old favourites that can be purchased, ranging from dogwoods (B.C.’s provincial flower) to maples.

In spite of the penchant of many developers for taking out any and all trees on lots they plan to build upon, creating a barren landscape where they start from zero, even many of these folks with an eye to the dollar potential end up adding trees back as part of the plan. Because a big shade tree to sit underneath in the heat of the summer is often as much a part of the homeowner’s dream as the proverbial white picket fence. And that’s a good thing. Though we do wish there was more effort made to save some of the existing foliage on these lots.

Municipalities are even mandating that large commercial developments use trees and greenery to improve the vast parking lots that seem to be an inevitable part (though we could use more greenery in these asphalt deserts. Ever competed for the shady parking spot when the temperature is soaring and you can see the heat waves coming off the pavement?).

Preserving parks with treed areas is key, but so is expanding the number of trees we incorporate into our urban streets and sidewalks. There’s a motion coming to North Cowichan council to do just that for that municipality.

For communities that don’t yet have a position on trees: it’s time to put trees on the agenda.

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