Saanich Parks tree planting crew Daryld Sanders

Saanich helps neighbourhoods beautify boulevards

Municipality offers saplings, manpower for planting to help increase tree canopy in Saanich

A Saanich initiative is helping community groups bring more beauty into the world.

Saanich crews were on Casa Marcia Crescent in the Gordon Head recently planting more than a dozen trees in neighbourhood boulevards.

Resident Beth Rogers said she had long wanted to organize a tree-planting for the neighbourhood, as there weren’t many trees on their street. When she heard about a municipally-run tree-planting program she knew the time was right.

Rogers said it is the tree-lined boulevards which “make Victoria, Victoria.”

“The leafy neighbourhoods are the most attractive,” she said, adding boulevard trees hide power lines, provide shade, absorb groundwater and generally beautify the community.

Normally a homeowner needs to pay for the tree and the district will plant it, but with this program Saanich pays for the tree and manpower to plant it.

Saanich has been offering the program in a formal sense for about two years, planting at least 200 trees in the community during that time. Funding for the program comes primarily from BC Hydro and its efforts to support re-greening initiatives.

Money also comes from Saanich capital projects. Any time a tree has to be removed or dies, money is set aside to plant two replacement trees in the community.

A community group in North Quadra was the first to take up the program, with the Gordon Head Community Association following suit. Now the Gorge Tillicum Community Association is in the early stages of becoming involved.

There is a wide selection of trees for residents to choose from. Rogers and her neighbour across the street, Judith Sales, decided to both get Japanese snowbells, which grow to about eight metres high and produce dense green foliage and white bell-shaped flowers.

“We’re very happy with them,” Rogers said. “We’ve been out staring at them.”

Sales, who is a director for the Gordon Head Residents Association and did much of the legwork organizing the endeavour, said it’s the ease of the program that appeals to people. The district does all the planting, plus fertilization for three years. All that is asked of homeowners is to water the plant during watering season for the first three to five years to help the trees establish.

“When people see the trees that have gone in they’ll be keen,” Sales said. “It’s a great program and Saanich should really be congratulated.”

The district is now working to develop a tool that will allow residents to pick trees online. Saanich hopes the online feature will be ready for summer, before the fall planting season.

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