It’s the old adage… “you don’t know what you got until its gone” …once again a bit of foreshadowing from Joni Mitchell. Our tree canopy, now a hot topic with the media and politicians alike. But for that last number of years a topic largely ignored by both. Tree maintenance you see is not a very interesting topic and certainly not a priority when it came to spending money. In the landscape industry we have all heard or experienced many stories, especially in the city of Toronto, where protecting mature trees has gone to the extreme and sometimes beyond commonsense. I wonder how many homes or cars were severely damaged by trees in the ice storm that homeowners had petitioned city hall in the past, asking for removal, only to have been denied. That would be an interesting phone-in poll for the media to take.
For myself here in Pickering, I was foolishly patient with the city, waiting for them to deal with our neighborhoods Ash trees, infected with Emerald Ash Borer. Two of my neighbors trees were removed and replaced 2 years ago because of the insect, yet I waited. I tried to understand that they could only budget for a certain amount of tree removal every year. I really tried.
Now the 3 city trees on my property ( thanks to my corner lot) and at least 4 other trees on my street are now severely damaged and will need to be taken down. In chatting with my neighbors this morning we have collectively counted at least 6 yes, six visits by city crews to remove the debris from the street and trim the dangerous branches that were hanging over the street. Although most debris is still all over my yard and the trees still need to come down…. just wondering how many more visits and how much more money is going to be spent compared to the costs of removing the trees 2 years ago and replacing them with new trees like my neighbors.
Now , am I saying all the trees severely damaged had Emerald Ash Borer? No, but I am wondering how many, truly healthy well pruned trees were damaged in the storm? I can only speak about my neighborhood, I have driven through a few streets that I know of with well maintained trees and I can tell you, there is very little damage.
Don’t get me wrong, I love mature trees and I loved that I had 3 that surrounded my yard. Years ago when I heard Emerald Ash Borer was starting to spread I was concerned but I continued to develop my landscape around these trees. Mature trees really make a neighborhood. And I am very sad that my 25 +year old neighborhood will have to start over. But to be honest I am upset that we weren’t thinking about the tree canopy and the big picture and are now paying the price. It is time to get aggressive with maintaining our city trees, based on all the good they bring to our communities with the knowledge now of the damage the same trees can cause with the help of Mother Nature.