A 111 km/h windstorm on June 20, 2017 brought down roughly 15,000 trees in Red Deer's parks system.
Almost a year has gone by and it’s likely you’ll still see a felled tree or stump from that storm if you’re walking around the city.
In fact, there are about 600 trees or stumps which still need to be taken care of, according to Trevor Poth, The City of Red Deer’s Parks Superintendent.
He says city council will soon have to make a decision in order to pay for the remaining clean-up, as well as to determine which areas actually get replanted.
“We’re going to be looking at the areas that are most impacted by the Canada Winter Games and focus our 2018 energy on getting those trees replaced so that the city looks beautiful for the Games,” Poth says. “Following that, what we’ll end up doing is start prioritizing based on trees that have been gone a lot longer.”
Prior to the windstorm, the park system was missing about four per cent of its regular tree supply. The storm almost doubled that, Poth says.
With close to 2000 trees which now need to be removed (1400 from before the storm), and a price-tag of $600 per tree, the cost for The City could be fairly high, but it depends on the plan council decides.
Unfortunately, The City has yet to hear back from the Government of Alberta regarding its appeal for funding under the Disaster Recovery program, says Karen Mann, Emergency Management Coordinator.
The City found out its application for close to $2 million in aid had been rejected last January. Mann says The City maintains the windstorm created extraordinary circumstances, as stated in the criteria for that funding.
"We think Red Deerians who were here during that windstorm can relate to that," she states. "If the province were to decide to reverse their decision to provide assistance to The City, that would go a long way in helping to handle some of those extraordinary costs, specifically related to emergency operations, and infrastructure damage, as well as the stump removal and emergency tree remediation costs that were incurred during that windstorm, and that we're still waiting to incur."
Meanwhile, Poth says safety is still The City's number one priority.
“So if people are coming to play on the trees or trying to use these areas,” he says. “We have had our urban foresters go through the entire city’s formal tree system and do hazard tree assessments on all the trees that exist in the city and that were impacted by the storm.
Poth says there are no pending risks as far as unstable trees are concerned in spaces where there are private property, vehicles or sitting areas.
“A lot of people are feeling like they want to see more trees removed around the city, but we would caution them on that and say that the trees that have survived that intense of a windstorm are extremely stable,” he says. “They will be monitored if they’re on City property. We strongly encourage people to not be afraid of the forest around them, but to appreciate the natural beauty of it.”
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