The Habitat & Environment Committee is focused on Sidney’s Urban Forest Strategy (UFS), in particular our tree canopy. Sidney Council has directed staff to analyze the action items in the Strategy and bring potential projects forward to Council’s strategic planning and budget process.
Currently, Sidney’s urban forest provides an estimated 14% canopy coverage. This is significantly lower than municipalities such as Oak Bay with 33% or Saanich with 38% coverage. The City of Victoria’s canopy coverage is 18%. Besides the aesthetic and other benefits of a healthy tree canopy, as temperatures rise due to global warming, canopy coverage is increasingly important.
We are advocating that the Town follows the recommendation of Barefoot Planning and use GIS (Geographical Information System) to map the existing canopy. An accurate inventory of both trees removed and planted as well as soil analysis are also important factors. Our committee wants to stress the need to ensure trees are protected and new plantings survive, by requiring defined and specific requirements for developers to follow, including a two year commitment to care for trees they plant. We would like the bar set higher for removing mature trees to accommodate development.
We also encourage Mayor and Council to involve Sidney residents in programs such as: Tree Appreciation Day, Adopt a Tree, become a Tree Ambassador, and/or help collect data for habitat and tree inventories. We plan to reach out to the Horticultural Center of the Pacific for more information regarding tree inventory. On a last note, we are continuing our restoration work by planting native species at the Ardwell Beach Access Native Plant Garden, under the supervision of Jane Hunter.