Getting Street Trees where they are needed the most.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Using trees to beat the heat: action in Portland Oregon.

From this interesting piece from the USA:
New street tree in Keith neighbourhood,
Hamilton Ontario

"We’ve been working with a team for several years to develop heat island maps for Portland and its surrounding region. We’ve also worked with Dr. Linda George and her lab to study traffic-related air quality, and the impact of trees on that air quality."

"Right now we’re working on an interactive version of the map that will help policy makers and citizen groups drill down on specific Portland streets and neighborhoods to find trouble spots. Notable in our analysis is that trails and greenways factor prominently in reducing air pollution and mitigating urban heat. The more extensive tracts of greenery present in specific areas, the greater cleaning and cooling of the air."

OK peoples: we can do so much more to further the research about air quality, and keep adding more trees to do their part for cleaning the air.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wrapping Up 2015

After a long month of canvassing throughout the Gibson neighbourhood, the Street Tree Project is wrapping up for the 2015 season. 

A few of this years volunteers 

To quantitatively see the results of the project over the last 3 years, check out the following map!

It’s not too late to get your free tree. Although the requests for fall planting are due June 30, any further requests will be planted in spring! 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Volunteers Needed

The Street Tree Project is still looking for volunteers if you'd like to come out to the Gibson neighbourhood and help out with door-to-door canvassing!

If you are interested, sign up on this Doodle Poll:

Monday, June 8, 2015

GALA Meeting, 100in1 Day Hamilton, and Trailhead Ontario Community Day

Just had an amazing but busy weekend with the Street Tree Project!

On Saturday (June 6), I headed out to a branch of the Hamilton Public Library down Barton Street East to attend the monthly Gibson and Landsdale Area (GALA) Meeting to see what's being planned for the area and to promote the project to get some more publicity. They were busy planning many great things for the community such as the Barton Street Festival, Pan-Am BBQ, and the Beautiful Alleys Clean-up. Brenda Duke (GALA co-treasurer) later offered to include our poster in the July/August community paper (The Herald), so hopefully requests for street trees continue to be fly in once our project is over!

After the GALA meeting, I headed over to Powell Park to meet volunteer Maine Be to host our very own 100in1 Day Hamilton intervention! We set up a table where kids could draw while we talk to their parents about the benefits of street trees. After 2 hours of talking to several families, we got a few requests and had many people interested in the program! Hopefully they visit the Hamilton Free Street Tree website and request their very own. To wrap up our day, we headed down Barton for a bit of door-to-door canvassing.

On Sunday (June 7), I headed to Mills Plaza on the McMaster campus for the first ever Trailhead Ontario 2015 Community Day! There were a bunch of different trail groups that came from across Hamilton, Halton, and Burlington for a two-day conference that will be taking place on Monday and Tuesday. I set up a table to inform people of the Free Street Tree Program that the City of Hamilton offers, and this impressed quite a few individuals that travelled from outside of the City, as their regions did not offer such a sweet deal. Fortunately, most of the people I talked to already had plenty of trees planted across their properties and some even planted trees in their favourite fishing spots are along the road in their home towns!

Although the turnout was mediocre at first, the plaza got busier later on in the day with most of the attention focused on the Conversation Halton booth that hosted a few very impressive birds of prey. Overall, the Community Day was definitely a success and it was refreshing to meet with so many individuals who were active in greening the environment and were pro-sustainability.

Turnout at Trailhead Ontario 2015 Community Day

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

93.3 CFMU - Painting Hamilton Green

I recently had the chance to be a guest on 93.3 CMFU (McMaster Campus Radio) with host Ingie Metwally! Click on the link below to hear more about the project and why it is important to the city. Also, check out 93.3 CFMU for some great interviews and tunes!

As always, If you’re interested in getting involved with the program and help make a positive impact on Hamilton communities, contact the Street Tree Project team via email (, phone (905-525-9140 ext. 26026), or by coming in to the OPIRG McMaster Resource Centre (MUSC 229).

Friday, May 15, 2015

100in1 Day Hamilton

After our walkthrough of the Gibson neighbourhood, we attended a 100in1 Day Hamilton workshop. We weren't too sure of what to expect, since the description on the website was limited. The event was hosted at St. Peter’s HARRRP Community Centre (705 Main St. East).

St. Peter's HARRRP Community Centre

As soon as we arrived, we got started on brainstorming ideas around different themes – what we love about Hamilton, what could be improved in Hamilton, how we could improve these things, how we would go about implementing these things, and finally how these ideas could be translated into interventions for 100in1 Day Hamilton on June 6th

With some help from Laura Anderson (running a ‘U-Pick Urban Kale Farm’ at Powell Park), we got our thoughts formalized into a 100in1 Day Hamilton intervention!
I will be at Powell Park between 11:15 AM and 3:00 PM with a couple of volunteers! Hopefully we will be able to get several requests at this event; come check us out if you have time. If you want a free street tree but can’t attend this event, feel free to contact me at and I would be more than willing to help you request one.

Check out our Hamilton intervention page for more information:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Call For Volunteers

After another successful year at Crown Point with 83 tree requests, the Street Tree Project will be heading to the Gibson neighbourhood to paint another great neighbourhood green! If you would like to get involved this year in making a positive impact for Hamilton communities while meeting some wonderful residents in the Gibson area, contact us via email, phone, or by coming in to the OPIRG resource room!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

First Impression of the Gibson Area

This year OPIRG McMaster will be targeting the Gibson area for the Street Tree Project! Heading out to the neighbourhood for the first time with the now experienced Street Tree Project Leader Randy Kay, we were able to assess the area more comprehensively than with Google maps.

Starting from Barton St. East, we made our way Northwards up Gibson Avenue. Our first reaction of the neighbourhood was how much potential it had to become greener. Plot sizes were generally decent, with a few that might be too small to have a tree planted there,but it was clear that the street could be made much more beautiful with an overhanging tree canopy. After talking to one of the neighbours, it seemed that because of the small plot sizes, most people would be more receptive towards smaller trees. Considering that the most popular requested tree has been the Amur Maple (growing up to 5-8 meters in height), this was not very surprising. 

Additionally, there were other neighbours who seemed to be interested in the idea of a free tree, but were unsure if their plot was large enough to host one. Other neighbours were interested in the idea of a free tree, but only if it was in their backyard, which is unfortunately not city property or part of the road allowance. Maybe the City would be able to partly compensate a property owner for trees on their private property… who knows, though this would be very complicated to into make a reality!

One of the things that caught my attention as we walked down Gibson Avenue was the not-so-distant sign of industrial manufacturing plants:

As we later walked down Sherman Avenue North towards the harbour, the thundering sound of what I presumed was steel clashing against something else in a rusting warehouse made it clear to us that we were no longer in a neighbourhood-friendly zone. 

Heading farther towards the harbour, we started to notice a metallic taste in our mouth, presumably due to U. S. Steel Canada and/or Dafasco. Hopefully if enough street trees are planted, this will change in the future!

Heading back, we stopped at 270 Sherman Avenue North to see what the hullabaloo was about regarding the arts facility. Stepping inside on the first floor, it did not seem like anything special. However, as we made our way up the stairs into the studio hallways, it was clear why people flocked to this arts centre when they host events. There were several photos of Hamilton’s industrial past and how it influenced the community that Hamilton is today. I would never have thought that such an old building could host such a vibrant Creative Arts Centre! 

270 Sherman Avenue - Hamilton Creative Arts Centre

Can’t wait to head back to the area after gathering up some volunteers and putting some trees on those streets! 

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.