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A letter to Ottawa’s Forestry Services

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

The Champlain Park Community Association (CPCA) recently formed an Environment Sub-committee. We are offering to undertake a collaborative effort with the City, to protect and enhance the urban forest in our community.

I am pleased to inform you that a number of residents in the community are willing to share their significant professional and technical expertise (including a professor of botany, an environmental anthropologist and several published amateur naturalists) regarding the trees in Champlain Park. This local knowledge and our enthusiasm was evident most recently on Sunday June 26, when Champlain Park hosted the Ottawa Forests and Greenspace Advisory Committee’s first urban forest walk of 2011: Walk in the Park: Heritage Trees of Champlain Park.

Champlain Park residents are keen to preserve the unique character of this part of Ottawa’s urban forest. Sadly, this character is under threat. Recently, we have lost various mature trees to infill development, including a 179 year old bur oak on Northwestern Avenue. This tree was part of the original natural forest in the community. We were consequently delighted to see the City plant three bur oaks on the median at Northwestern, a gesture we take as a tribute to the magnificent heritage trees of Champlain Park.

As you know, losses due to the emerald ash borer are also imminent. While we appreciate the City’s proactive approach to establishing new trees before the ash is lost, we are concerned about the preponderance of non-native tree species and short ornamental trees recently planted on Northwestern. While overhead wires account for some of the choices, a number of the short trees are actually not anywhere near power lines and will never grow to provide a canopy effect on our only boulevard. This may not have been apparent from maps when the trees were selected.

We wish to work with you. We believe that we can help the City make the most of its investments in trees, by providing local knowledge and a long-term perspective on what species will make the greatest contribution to public spaces in the neighbourhood, such as the Northwestern Avenue median and Champlain Park.

Collaboration also would provide us with the opportunity to learn about and adapt the technical criteria used to select trees for particular niches in Ottawa’s urban environment.

The CPCA Environment Sub-committee welcomes opportunities to provide assistance to and learn from the City’s staff so that general urban forestry initiatives can be adapted to this neighbourhood. Please keep this in mind when planning future initiatives involving public spaces in the neighbourhood.

Thank you, Nick Xenos, Chair, CPCA Environment Sub-committee

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