Getting Street Trees where they are needed the most.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Friends

It's been a busy couple of weeks working on the Street Tree project, but also incredibly exciting/informative/thought-provoking/what have you! We've been meeting community members and trying to gather support from people involved at all levels of the project. From the City of Hamilton's forestry department, to McAnulty's caring neighbours, we're trying to get to know everyone!

From large scale Hamilton to small scale McAnulty, here are some of the community leaders we met:

Last week we met with Bill Longley from the Forestry Department, we found out that 65 trees have been planted so far in the Keith neighbourhood from last year. Mr. Longley even came on a neighbourhood walk-around with us in the McAnulty area to go over planting spaces for when we do our canvassing.
Jay and Bill
Councillor Sam Merulla from Ward 4, was also very welcoming and supportive of our project. Councillor Merulla was quite willing to help with advertising and providing information about the neighbourhoods. He offered to include the project in his newsletter and even invited us to his Ward meeting this Thursday (stay posted to hear about that)!

Rebecca Doll is the Community Developer for Crown Point's Neighbourhood Action Strategy. We met with her at a lovely coffee shop on Cannon and Ottawa called Cannon Coffee. She told us a bit about the Crown Point community and invited us to their Community Meeting this past Monday. At the meeting we got a chance to meet some people working and living in Crown Point and inform everyone about our project. Cindy, the owner of Cannon Coffee, offered to advertise the project in her shop (go treat yourself at Cannon Coffee and see!).  We also found out about some exciting things happening in the community, like Belview Park opening, and the Pipeline Trail Project. Neighbours interested in helping green Hamilton's streets also got in touch with us and will be coming canvassing on Friday (it's not too late if you're interested in volunteering too!)! Overall, the Meeting was a great experience and already it's clear that it got the word out to more people who are going to be getting engaged with the project!
Meeting at Cannon Coffee with Rebecca Doll
Photo courtesy of Randy Kay
So we've gone from Hamilton to Ward 4 to Crown Point, and finally Monday we also met Barb LaFleshe, a leader and caring neighbour in the McAnulty area (see the post about the ArcelorMittal Dofasco trial from Monday for more details about our canvassing with Barb). She's offered to help us contact residents and get the word out about the Street Tree project in the local community, and together we might even be able to get a community building and Street Tree advertising event in the area!

We're hoping to meet lots more community leaders in the next while and are so glad to see how much support the project is receiving!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Disappointing Dofasco Trial

Today ArcelorMittal Dofasco was fined a mere $390,000 for environmental charges that were laid over a year ago. Of the 13 original charges, Dofasco plead guilty to six, and seven others were entirely dropped. Many residents are incredibly disappointed in the results and feel let down by the Ministry of the Environment. Considering the time it took for them to receive a penalty and that violations in the form of dark smoke plumes appear on average every day and a half, resident Barbara LaFleshe says that the punishment is just a "slap on the wrist". Many community members would like to see the money put towards community projects and specifically efforts to improve air quality, however everyone is skeptical as to how things will actually play out.

The McAnulty residents won't just give up though. Today Jay and I went out canvassing with Barbara, who has lived in the area for many many years. We met at her house, beautifully tucked behind two large trees on her front lawn (to which she's hoping to add a third). Barbara took charge in knocking on neighbours' doors, introducing herself and us, and encouraging everyone to request trees and create a screen between their homes on McAnulty and Dofasco's pollution. Thanks to her efforts we received many requests, and also got a chance to speak to many of McAnulty's residents. We're looking forward to going back and continuing to build relationships with people living in the area and caring for their community.
Lynda Lukasik of Environment Hamilton took this photo around 8 a.m. Dec. 3, 2013 of ArcelorMittal Dofasco's blast furnace and Number 2 Coke plant. She believes the emission opacity here violates the MOE laws.
Photo courtesy of Environment Hamilton
For more information regarding the ArcelorMittal Dofasco trial see the Spectator article or CBC article below:

If you're interested in learning about the Westdale neighbourhood's urban forest, join the Hamilton Naturalist's club on a walk with arbourist Kyle McLoughlin tomorrow!


Our first volunteer orientation/canvassing day has been set for Friday May 30 from 5-7:30pm. We'll be meeting at McMaster's new and exciting space for research and community initiatives: the McMaster Action Research Commons Hamilton (ARCH) near Main and Kenilworth. Some start-up canvassing has proven successful and we've received several tree requests already (check back on the blog tomorrow for more details). If you want to be part of this project's success and watch it grow (along with some trees) send me an email at
Now let's put some TREEs on our sTREEts!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Beautiful Partnerships Should Always Start With Tree-Planting

The Street Tree Project is a pretty wonderful initiative to improve air quality and greenery in Hamilton's urban neighbourhoods, but what's especially wonderful is that it isn't the only project with these goals! Environment Hamilton is in the process of a new air quality surveillance program, where they're measuring levels of pollutants in the air by using monitors attached to bicycles. The Hamilton Naturalists' Club is also hard at work, conducting an urban tree inventory. Of course, it only makes sense that we all work together and what better way to start than by tree planting in the Amaolo Nature Sanctuary!
If you'd like more information about Environment Hamilton or the Naturalists' Club and TreesCount, take a look at their websites, and of course if you're looking for more ways to get involved check out the OPIRG facebook page as well!                        

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Walk Through McAnulty

Wednesday we took our first trip to the Crown Point McAnulty neighbourhood. I met up with Randy from OPIRG McMaster and Jay from Environment Hamilton at the Kenilworth stop on the 10B-Line bus route. This was my first time in the neighbourhood and I really wasn't at all sure what to expect. The first thing that caught my eye was the steel industry casting a shadow over everything else in the area. Before today, I'd only ever seen Dofasco from the QEW, but seeing it from neighbourhood streets was really something else. We walked north until we finally reached McAnulty. Turning into the neighbourhood, my first thought wasn't that the neighbourhood was entirely bereft of trees - a good sign! The further in we walked though, the more potential space we saw where more could be planted.

As we started to meander through the streets, we met a woman out in her front yard. Randy approached her, introducing who we were and what we planned on doing there in the coming month. He then asked her how she thought her neighbours would feel about a free tree.

I thought for sure she'd be excited, I couldn't see any reason not to; so naturally I was a bit shocked to hear that  her instantaneous reply was "Would you get rid of the ones we have first?"
She went on to explain that she was worried about the roots getting in the pipes, and that currently she was having trouble with one of her backyard trees that was pushing a garage she had there. 

Only a few houses down there was a couple, out for a smoke on their front porch. In typical, friendly, Hamiltonian fashion, they were also glad to speak to us when we asked what they thought of a free tree. Unfortunately though, their response wasn't much better.

"I've got stuff out on my lawn in the summer" said the man who lived there, pointing to a snowmobile he had out front, and also commenting that sometimes the lawn also served as a second parking spot.

In fairness, many of the plots were pretty small, without much distance between houses either. However there still seemed to be enough space for planting, and in front of some homes a boulevard that might be able to house some new trees as well. Despite the sizes of the yards, it was clear that a lot of the McAnulty residents took pride in their homes, and we saw some pretty lovely home-fronts all along our way towards the north end of the neighbourhood. 

Once we got to Dofasco Blvd though, it was quite another story. The industry looked massive compared to the homes, and especially compared to the employees working there. Lots of construction seemed to be going on as well, and if you could look past the smog and off to the distance you could see smoke stacks with steam billowing out of them.

There was what seemed like an abandoned school across the street as well, with a little oil spill in a puddle in the yard. 

A patch of oil in the school yard
Though it does look a bit like an art installation
But around the corner from Dofacso, we stumbled upon a little gem in the McAnulty area that was disguised as a $3.99 breakfast special. We walked into Wayside Lunch to grab something to eat and were delighted to meet the enchanting owner, Lisa, and one of the best cooks in Hamilton, Judy. We told them about our project and Lisa sounded very enthusiastic, asking where she could sign up! She chatted us up about the restaurant, and we found out we were enjoying our eggs and toast where many Hollywood stars, including Ethan Hawke, had been sitting. Apparently four productions have been filmed here so far, with a possibility of more movie shoots in the future.
Lisa in her element
Jay (left) and Randy (right) in front of the best restaurant in this part of town
After a fantastic breakfast and a great day out in Crown Point, we left Lisa's restaurant and began to head home, promising to be back for more delicious food another time. I found I learned quite a bit about the area just being there a few hours and I can't wait to go back, next time with tree request forms!

The steel industry; just hanging out in everyone's backyard

Looks a bit like they're about to have a show-down, don't you think?
Some trees in front of this fence might make the area a bit more welcoming

This one tree looks pretty stellar, imagine a streetful of them!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Let's put the TREEs back in sTREEts together!!

The Street Tree project door-to-door campaign is starting up again this year, this time around in the Crown Point neighbourhood. Last year's project was really successful with over 70 tree requests received from a neighbourhood that previously averaged around 3 requests a year (take a look at the posts from May 2013 and onwards to see how this happened). If you'd like to be involved this year, now you can! We're looking for anyone who's interested in making a positive impact to Hamilton communities. If you would like to come door-to-door to collect Street Tree requests, while meeting some of the wonderful residents of Crown Point neighbourhood and helping make the community a greener place with cleaner air, feel free to email me at or call the OPIRG office at McMaster: 905-525-9140 ext 26026.
Also check back on the blog later this week to see how our first visit to the Crown Point community goes!

Friday, May 9, 2014

20 Minute Tree

A crew of men showed up in front of our house this morning with two enormous trucks carrying machinery, tools and trees!

In just over 20 minutes they had neatly prepared a hole in the lawn, placed an 8 foot Prairie Sentinel Hackberry and covered the roots with earth and mulch, swept up, and were on their way to the next address. 

This was the free street tree I ordered online from the City of Hamilton Street Tree program last summer. I missed out on the fall planting so had to wait for this spring to have it planted. It was a nice way to spend this beautiful morning, with my coffee and a new tree in the front yard.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Krista coming to Crown Point with Free Street Trees this spring

Krista grew up in Etobicoke and started falling in love with the charismatic city of Hamilton when she moved here last year to study Health Sciences at McMaster. Since then she has become passionate about helping others discover some of the fantastic opportunities Hamilton offers, like the Street Tree Program! Her interest in community improvement has developed through her participation with Engineers Without Borders at McMaster as well as her role as a Girl Guide Leader in Dundas. She has been involved as an OPIRG McMaster volunteer this past school year and is really excited to further her involvement with the organization through her summer position as Air Quality Improvement Co-ordinator.