Getting Street Trees where they are needed the most.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Introducing the Street Tree Project Coordinator for 2017

Hey everyone! My name is Chelsea Lowes, and I’m very excited to be chosen as this year’s Street Tree Project coordinator!

I’m a born and raised Hamiltonian who decided to stay in the city I love and pursue a degree in Health Studies and Gerontology at McMaster University. Though I will always come to Hamilton’s defence, there is always room for improvement! The city essentially offers the best of both worlds, with unlimited natural, and urban scenery to enjoy. But why keep them separate?

My current education consistently shows how impactful social factors can be on one’s health. I am particularly interested in the role the environment takes. The Street Tree Project not only allows me to pursue this interest, but also provides me with the opportunity to create meaningful change in a community where I can continue to observe the benefits both on and off the job.

This year we will be focusing on the Homeside neighbourhood, just east of Kenilworth Street. I’m very much looking forward to getting started on this years project and working alongside this community, towards a greener city.  Initiatives to make Hamilton more environmentally friendly are stronger and more plentiful than ever, and I’m excited to be a part of it all.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tree Mapping

Technology never ceases to amaze us here at The Street Trees Project. Just in case anyone is curious about what a more visual representation of our work looks like, here is a map depicting the rough amount of trees that were requested over the last 4 years. That is almost 250 trees requested in the Keith, Crown Point, Gibson, Landsdale, and Stipley neighbourhoods alone. We are excited to see what is in store for us this year, as we work with the Homeside community towards a greener Hamilton. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Now Hiring for summer student to coordinate Street Tree project

OPIRG McMaster is seeking a student Street Tree Project Coordinator through the McMaster Work Program for Spring/Summer 2017.

Street Tree Project

For the past four summers OPIRG has hired a student staff to implement the Street Tree
Project. We piloted the project in the Summer of 2013 in Hamilton’s Keith Neighbourhood in Ward 3.

The project was designed by Randy Kay using mobile air quality data from Clean Air Hamilton, satellite mapping to identify areas lacking trees (which coincided with neighbourhoods with higher than average air pollution and lower than average incomes), and a partnership with the ward councillor and the city forestry department.

Our method is to go door to door and sign up residents for a free city street tree for the front of their homes. As a result, we successfully increased the average street tree requests from three to 75 in a two month period (May and June) in 2013.

The project expanded in 2014 to the Crown Point Neighbourhood where we received over 80 requests for Street Trees. Our third year focused on Ward Three’s Gibson/Landsdale Neighbourhood in 2015. 2016 found us back in Ward Three, going door to door in Gibson, Landsdale and Stipley neighbourhoods and netting 62 tree requests.

Our work has received positive media attention and a “community builder” award from Volunteer Hamilton and the Hamilton Spectator.

"Four different students have directly made a lasting impact on these neighbourhoods that will pay dividends in terms or air quality for decades to come."

The Street Tree project has a twitter account, a Facebook Page, a new Instagram account, as well as a blog.
You can read annual reports online or find them on the Hamilton Street Tree blog.

The Street Tree Project Coordinator will further implement the project for 2017.

Details of the Position:
Hourly Rate of Pay: $14.00
Hours Per Week: 30
Total Number of Weeks: 9
Employment Dates: Monday, May 1, 2017 – Friday, June 30, 2017
Work Schedule: 
Monday – Friday
Application Deadline: Friday, March 17, 2017

Applications require a cover letter, resume and approved work program form and should be submitted through MOSIAC. (link to job on MOSIAC)

OPIRG welcomes the contributions that individuals from marginalized communities bring to our organization, and invites aboriginal people, people of colour, poor and working-class people and those on social assistance, women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, queer-oriented people; transgender, transsexual, intersex and two-spirit people; single parents, members of ethnic minorities, immigrants, people from non-academic backgrounds and people with disabilities to apply. We encourage applicants to describe the contributions and experiences they would bring to the OPIRG organization in their cover letter.

OPIRG’S Mission
OPIRG McMaster’s mission is to empower students and community in exchanging ideas and taking action on diverse social justice and environmental issues by connecting individuals, groups, organizations, and resources

Monday, November 7, 2016

Street Trees in City Hall

2016's Street Tree Project coordinator Hannah Walters-Vida gave a report to the city of Hamilton's Public Works committee October 31, 2016, reporting on the successful outreach that garnered 62 new street trees in a section of ward three.

You can view her slides and watch a video of her presentation on our Facebook page. 

Over the past four summers, we have added over 200 street tree requests in neighbourhoods with higher than average mortality rates due to air pollution. The free street trees will contribute to improved air quality for generations to come.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the project in one way or another over the years.

Friday, September 30, 2016


September 30, 2016, Hamilton, Ontario


After an eight-week campaign, OPIRG McMaster Street Tree Project arranged for 62 homes in Hamilton’s east end to get free street trees planted in their front yards.

This year’s project was coordinated by McMaster undergraduate student Hannah Walters-Vida and focused on parts of Hamilton’s Gibson, Landsdale, and Stipley neighbourhoods.
Spaces for more street trees

Walters-Vida will present the results to the Public Works Committee at Hamilton City Hall council chambers on MONDAY, OCTOBER 3 at 1:30pm

Lower-income areas of Hamilton suffer from poorer air quality and less urban canopy than other parts of the city. Through a door-to-door campaign, the OPIRG Street Tree Project works in coordination with the city of Hamilton’s existing free street tree-planting program to encourage people in these areas to request trees for their properties.

Residents chose to request trees mainly for the aesthetic and environmental benefits that they provide.

“By talking directly with residents, we’ve been able to get results,” says Walters-Vida, results that account for an average increase equal to 20 years of tree requests in a span of two months. 
“There are small things we can and should do to improve living conditions in the most disadvantaged parts of Hamilton. Street trees are a simple and attainable step in the right direction.”


2016 Street Tree Project Final Report
Street Tree Project Page

OPIRG (Ontario Public Interest Research Group) McMaster is a student funded not-for-profit with an environmental and social justice mission. OPIRG has been supporting the Street Tree Project since 2013.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Trees and Crime

A little while ago, we posted about a research project in Portland, Oregon that was developing heat island maps to identify and display trouble spots in the city. Now we have yet another piece of interesting research coming from Portland. A 2012 study conducted by Geoffrey H. Donovan and Jeffrey P. Prestemon examined whether the presence of trees on a house’s front lot has an effect on crime in the city.

Donovan and Prestemon used reports from the Portland Police Bureau from 2005 to 2007, looking at the occurrences of seven different types of crime. A total of 2813 family homes were studied, with 431 having experienced some sort of crime.

It was found that trees on the road allowance of a property are associated with a decrease in crime. Donovan and Prestemon suggest multiple possible explanations for this. For example trees can signal to criminals that a neighbourhood is well taken care of, so a criminal would be more likely to be caught.

It was also found that the further away a tree is from the house, the more likely it is to decrease crime. This is a point in favour of street trees, which are planted on the road allowance close to the sidewalk.

However, there was also some evidence to suggest that a greater number of smaller trees on a property increase crime. This could be because they provide cover for criminals and block neighbours’ views of the house. However, homeowners can alleviate this risk by keeping trees pruned and being careful about the location of trees.

Since this is an observational study, we can’t be sure that the trees were the cause of the crime occurrences. In addition, the correlations found were relatively small. However, it’s an interesting prospect, and worth looking at in Hamilton.

Check out the full study at for more information!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Where are trees most needed?

How do we determine what areas are most in need of trees? McMaster Geography student Geoff Rose has come up with a method.

Given amounts of green space, pollution, income levels, number of parents, heat, and average road distance, 11 Hamilton neighbourhoods were ranked according to need. The study created a priority list of neigbourhoods in need of tree canopy development.

The Gibson and South Sherman neighbourhoods were ranked 2 and 7 on the priority list, respectively.

The Street Tree Project is currently focusing on both of these neighbourhoods. The Keith and Crown Point neighbourhoods were targets of the Street Tree Project in past years, and also made the list. The research gives us a good idea of neighbourhoods to focus on in the future.

Check out the infographic for more information!