City planning 150th anniversary grove

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney is reaching out to the public for ideas about where to plant a grove of 150 maple trees to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation next year.

City councillors are currently selecting potential locations for groves to be planted in each of Ottawa’s 23 wards — the city’s flagship project to mark Canada’s 150th birthday. 

“I am really looking forward to collaborating in the next few weeks with community associations, schools and other interested groups to select the most ideal locations,” said McKenney.

But even Ottawa’s mayor acknowledges it could be challenging to find an ideal location for the grove in the downtown ward. 

“Centretown’s a bit more difficult, because there’s so much built up,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “It’s not an area like Barrhaven, where there are large swaths of open space. Right now, it’s just finding a spot.”

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko’s office has already released a list of potential grove sites for the Capital Ward, including a grassy area outside the RA Centre along Riverside Drive.

Once a list of potential sites has been finalized for each ward, city officials will vet the sites to ensure they pose no potential problems for municipal services or other reasons, said David Barkley, manager of forestry services for the City of Ottawa. 

Watson said city residents should expect the final location of all grove sites — including Somerset Ward’s — to be announced by early 2017. Plantings will occur in the spring and fall of 2017.Each grove will occupy a minimum of 2,500 square metres (about half the size of a football field). 

A total of 3,450 trees will be planted across the city for an anticipated cost of $345,000. 

The final cost could end up being slightly lower or higher, depending on the bids received for tree planting, Watson said. 

City officials say the groves will be planted with an awareness of potential threats to their survival.

“Diversity is important in our forest cover,” Barkley said. 

“We’ve learned over the years that too much of one type of tree increases the risk when an insect or disease attacks the tree,” he continued.

The maple trees planted as part of the Canada 150 Maple Grove project are not part of the 500,000 trees the city agreed to contribute towards its tandem project — to plant one million trees in Ottawa by 2018, in collaboration with Ecology Ottawa and Tree Ottawa.