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Tree day event builds on Oak Bay’s urban forest

Nov. 7, residents can plant native riparian species, learn from the pros
Gerald Harris, Friends of Bowker Creek, Chris Hyde-Lay, parks manager for Oak Bay and Ron Carter, a member of Friends of Uplands Park and an originator of Tree Appreciation Day, plan the swath of land that will be planted Nov. 7. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

A longstanding tradition of tree planting aims to shade Oak Bay’s future fish-bearing stream.

Residents can settle native plantings into a wide swath of open space on the creek’s shore near the end of Armstrong Street during the Tree Appreciation Day event on Nov. 7.

The annual celebration is an opportunity for residents to appreciate and learn about the benefits trees provide, such as clean air, wildlife habitat, reduced energy demands and connecting with nature. Experts will be on hand to answer questions, including members of the Friends of Bowker Creek, which plans to plant the seeds of salmon early next year.

Trees will help make more favourable waters as they attempt to reintroduce salmon to the stream, said Gerald Harris, of Friends of Bowker Creek.

“We really see this as part of the biodiversity. Ten years from now there’s going to be so much more birdsong here, it will just be so much more full of life than it is now,” he said of the latest step to prepare Bowker for the return of salmon.

READ ALSO: Out of the streambed gravel comes harbinger of waning pollution in Oak Bay creek

In November, volunteer streamkeepers will go to the Goldstream hatchery and work with the Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association to take eggs from selected chum salmon. The hatchery will incubate the eggs until February 2022, when Peninsula Streams Society staff will offer expertise as the volunteers place thousands of eggs in the newly crafted gravel bed.

It’s not the first time Bowker starred in the tree celebration.

The first Tree Appreciation Day saw Saanich residents plant near the creek adjacent to Cedar Hill Recreation Centre in November 1995, said Ron Carter. At the time, he worked for Saanich, and the significant tree committee there created the event with the Cedar Hill Community Association hosting. Now an Oak Bay resident, Carter continues the work as a volunteer with organizations such as Friends of Uplands Park.

The tree canopy over the creek highlights the value of urban forest in general.

According to the district, Oak Bay has a canopy cover of about 33 per cent, good compared to other regional municipalities. It means the Oak Bay urban forest sequesters about 3,270 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and stores about 97,390 tonnes of carbon.

READ ALSO: Volunteers move masses of gravel, rock into Oak Bay creek

Oak Bay’s tree population is currently in good health overall, according to Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of parks services.

Soil volumes and quality tend to be adequate, but the region lacks the summer precipitation needed to meet all vegetation needs.

The combination of drought adaptations in trees, soil volumes and soil quality are critical to growing healthy, long lived trees. Scheduling regular maintenance is important for maintaining a healthy urban tree population, maximizing tree lifespans and managing potential risks.

Learn more from those in the field during Tree Appreciation Day on Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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A nicely shaded section of Bowker Creek serves as the goal for plantings set to go in Nov. 7, during the annual Tree Appreciation Day event. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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