Getting Street Trees where they are needed the most. An OPIRG McMaster summer neighbourhood project.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Introducing Harshal, Street Tree Project co-ordinator 2015

Born in North York, Harshal grew up accustomed to the urban setting of Toronto. After moving to Hamilton four years ago to study Life Sciences at McMaster, he has grown to love the seamless integration that Hamilton provides between urban and nature.

Being heavily involved in McMaster Residence Life as a Community Advisor for the past 3 years, he has been exposed to numerous negative expectations about the city which first year students bring with them when first moving to Hamilton. However, he has witnessed these negative outlooks transform into positive ones as students become more involved within the city.

After investigating pollution and brownfield redevelopment across Hamilton as part of a Biology project, he truly appreciates the active effort the city exercises to reduce various types of pollution as well as the associated negative stigma.

The Street Tree Project is one of many phenomenal initiatives Hamilton offers to reach its goal of becoming a greener city. Harshal is extremely excited to bring his unique and creative mindset in an effort to help further these positive effects in communities as the 2015 Street Tree Project Co-ordinator.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Shady Character Wins Award :)

Helping Hamilton one tree at a time
By Dave Churchill, The Hamilton Spectator, April 17, 2015

People in some of Hamilton's most polluted neighbourhoods are breathing a little easier thanks to the work by Randy Kay and the group at the Hamilton Street Tree Project.

But on Thursday, it was Kay's time to bask in the sunshine as he was named Volunteer Hamilton's Community Builder of the Year.

Kay said the work wasn't about winning awards, or even how many trees are planted every year, but about the long-term impact on some of Hamilton's neighbourhoods with the worst air quality. More than 80 trees were planted in Crown Point last year. The year before, about 70 trees were planted in the Keith area.

"The impact on those neighbourhoods in 20 years will be tremendous," said Kay. "It will change those neighbourhoods. By then, people won't remember I got this award."

Kay, an environmental and clean air advocate in the city for years, dreamed up the Street Tree Project three years ago while looking at Google satellite maps of Hamilton.

What he saw struck a chord.

"You could see the difference when looking at Ancaster or Dundas," he explained. "You could see green — but other neighbourhoods were all grey."

Kay, who is co-ordinator of volunteers for the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) at McMaster University, decided to connect the university's student volunteers with the city's existing tree planting program. The city program had been in place since 2004 but has gotten a big boost from Kay and the Street Tree Project volunteers.

Students went door to door promoting the tree planting and the group hit immediate success. More than 60 trees were planted in the Keith neighbourhood in the fall of 2013, as opposed to the previous average of three per year.

Kay said the group will be back again this summer, canvassing an even wider section of the north end and hoping to top the 80 trees planted last year.

At the awards breakfast, Sam Cino, president of Volunteer Hamilton's board of directors, said volunteers make the city a better place and noted Hamilton has one of the highest percentages of volunteers in Canada.

"It's the most special gift of all," said Cino. "The gift of time."

The Community Builder of the Year award is sponsored by The Hamilton Spectator and includes a $1,000 legacy grant.

For more information on the city's free tree planting program, see or call the city at 905-546-2489.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Quirky love beneath the branches in Melbourne Australia

This is the sweetest thing. Humans and trees, together at last! (and a great project to have tangible results: "plant 3,000 trees a year to double the forest canopy by 2040 and so cool the city by 4 degrees")

Love you, tree: Melbourne climate change plan sparks arbor ardor

(Reuters) - Trees in the Australian city of Melbourne are replying to emails from the public as authorities seek to highlight the impact of climate change in a country where rising temperatures are expected to outpace global warming worldwide. 
The city council initiative, which spotlights each of Melbourne's 77,000 trees on an interactive map, invites visitors to email a tree to report problems such as low-hanging branches or insufficient watering. 
But it has had an unexpected outcome, with dozens of Melbournians writing to express affection for their favorite trees. 
"Dear Tree, If you are that big, round, beautiful, low-hanging tree, I think you are my favourite tree ... Keep up the good work," wrote one correspondent using only the initial "N". 
The quirky emails, to which staff respond on behalf of the trees, are building awareness of climate change in Melbourne, regarded as Australia's most European city, thanks to its architecture and wide tree-lined boulevards.
But almost a quarter of its trees, including oaks, elms and planes, are set to die off by the end of the decade, and that figure will rise to almost 40 percent by 2030, speeded by a devastating 13-year drought that broke in 2012.
"As our climate becomes more and more extreme, we’re going to have to look at trees that are fit for purpose," Councillor Arron Wood told Reuters. "We now have a target of having no more than 5 percent of one tree species in the city."
Australia faces a rise in temperature of potentially more than 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, the national science agency says.
The business district is dominated by plane trees, which are drought resilient and have broad canopies, but are now being scaled back because they shed leaves during long periods of high temperatures, an aspect of the weather expected to worsen.
The council plans to plant 3,000 trees a year to double the forest canopy by 2040 and so cool the city by 4 degrees. It hopes residents will pay attention to the city's future appearance, while enjoying the trees as long as they can.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Crown Point: Trees, Please!

Come out to our Volunteer Orientation for Crown Point: Trees, Please! and learn about how you can become a Tree Ambassador, get free trees for yourself and see more trees in your neighbourhood!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Exciting Fall Happenings

The Street Tree Project has been officially done for the summer since July, but make no mistake, our efforts to put trees on the streets of Hamilton are still going strong. About a month ago, on October 4, one of our summer volunteers, Anna (who was also a part of the Cable 14 feature of us!) took a group of students canvassing door-to-door again in Crown Point.
Over the course of the summer, OPIRG's StreetTree Project had spoken to organizers of the McMaster Student Success Center's annual MacServe Day of Learning. The Day of Learning allows McMaster students to sign up to spend a day working with a group on a service project. MacServe offers a variety of placements, all including some introduction to the area or program with which students will be working, and following up with a debrief afterwards. As one of the options that students could sign up for this year, the StreetTree Project drew some more attention from students, spread the word about free trees in Crown Point, and signed up three more residents for a Street Tree!

Narula's RestaurantOutside of  the McMaster community, the StreetTree Project is also being taken up by residents of the Crown Point neighbourhood. Some residents expressed an interest in expanding the program in their community, so we met with Anne, who lives in the Crown Point neighbourhood, Rosy, who owns Narula's (a really delicious Indian restaurant in Crown Point which you should definitely check out!), and Giuliana, from the Hamilton Naturalist's Club to discuss how we could make that happen. 
Rosy generously offered up her restaurant for the meeting, and exciting things have been planned for the future! We decided that we will hold a volunteer orientation at the end of November. The Naturalist's Club has a goal to increase green space in Crown Point, the OPIRG StreetTree project is aiming to help people find out about free StreetTrees that can be requested from the City, and the people who live and work in the community want to see their neighbourhood beautiful and healthy! Working towards a common goal, we're planning to host a volunteer orientation session towards the end of November for anyone interested in promoting trees in their neighbourhood! Keep posted for more information and to stay involved with the tree excitement in Crown Point! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Street Tree project coordinator Krista made an appearance on McMaster's radio station CFMU 93.3 fm' This Is #HamOnt show to talk about the success of this summer project.

Listen to the entire show, or zoom in at 18:40 to get right to Krista's interview. (removed from soundcloud)

Thanks to the volunteer host Jonathan for inviting us on the air! Campus radio is a fantastic place to share new ideas (and of course music!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

StreetTree Requests Mapped

Keeping track of tree requests has been exciting! It's been wonderful seeing the list get longer and longer as we've added requests to the spreadsheet, but what was even more awesome was looking at these requests placed on a map! Most of the requests that we gathered from canvassing these past months have now been put into an interactive Google map, you can look at where trees have been requested and also what people have put down as their top three choices. Look to see what kind of trees will be growing in the Crown Point neighbourhood soon :)