“It raises issues often not thought about, like the idea of access to trees being important for residents of a city. It also puts forward the idea of returning the forest and wilderness to our cities, in some capacity.”
We are sad to share the news of Councillor Bernie Morelli's death, Tuesday.
Councillor Morelli was the first person we went to see when we were looking at starting this Street Tree Project, back in August 2012. He agreed to meet with OPIRG's staff member in his city hall office, and after a bit of discussion (and a bit of convincing) he jumped on board, giving us access to his executive assistant (at the time Nick Westoll) who arranged the first meeting with Forestry staff. Mr Morelli also suggested other staff and community people we could talk to, people working in the Keith Neighbourhood to help make positive contributions to the lives and environment of local residents.
His support was a real boost to our efforts, and we are thankful for his help.
Mr Morelli was one of the longest serving councillors at Hamilton City Hall, representing a Hamilton Ward in the old industrial area of Hamilton. We are grateful for his initial support and wish his friends and family strength to deal with their loss.
By Matthew Van Dongen, The Hamilton Spectator (January 11, 2014)
A mountain-sized monument to storm victims is growing on Upper Ottawa Street.
The pile towers twice the height of the front-end loader in charge of building it and covers the area of a small sports field — for now.
If your favourite street tree lost life or limb to the icy pre-Christmas freeze, its wood-chipped remains could swell the mulch morgue.
"There's always a pile there, but the size depends on the kind of year we have," said forestry manager Mike McNamara. "Last year was kind of exceptional."
The grim 2013 body count for city-owned trees in parks and lining streets — so far — is between 7,000 and 9,000, thanks in large part to a deadly July windstorm.
That estimate will likely grow: it could take months to learn which trees damaged in the latest ice storm are living on borrowed time, or pose an eventual public hazard.
By comparison, the city removes 1,200 dead trees in an average year — plus 2,300 ash trees for invasive beetle control — and plants about 6,000.
That's worrisome math for a city that wants to grow its urban canopy from 19 per cent to 35 per cent by 2030.
McNamara said the July wind and rain storm (with gusts more than 100 km/h) hit mature street trees in the lower city "like sails in a gale," causing some to uproot and crash down in dramatic fashion. Ice storm damage hit the Mountain and rural Hamilton hardest and was more insidious, ripping down thousands of limbs but leaving most trees standing.
The city will replant storm-axed street and park trees that it owns, said McNamara, but growing patches for holes in the full urban canopy will easily take two decades.
OPIRG McMaster's summer student Jonathan Valencia volunteered to present to the Public Works Committee at City Hall this morning about our pilot project in the Keith Neighbourhood.
It was easy to impress them with our project: in an area with an identified air quality problem that would normally get three street tree requests a year, by going door to door Jonathan was able to get 75 requests! While not every property meets the minimum space requirement, still, 53 trees will be planted this fall. Not only will the neighbourhood look better, but air quality will be improved, along with other tree-positive benefits such as cooling shade, water retention, and soil protection.
OPIRG McMaster plans to continue and expand the project next summer, so that more neighbourhoods can benefit from the street tree program offered by the city.
OPIRG students making the world a better place one street at a time!
Look for articles in the Hamilton Spectator, online at CBC Hamilton and on Joey Coleman's Livestream video site. (Links will be added as the material is available)