Trees provide many environmental, public health, welfare and socio-economic benefits to communities, making them a valued asset to The City and its residents. When a late summer snowstorm hit the city in 2014, the trees had yet to lose their leaves. The added weight of heavy snow caused branches and trunks to break.
Half of Calgary’s entire urban forest, two million trees, were damaged. Of the two million trees damaged, 500,000 were on City land (City-owned trees) and 1.5 million were privately owned trees across the city. Many thousands of trees were decimated beyond repair and would have to be replaced. Of those that could be saved, proper pruning was critical to prevent future failure from disease or insect infestations, and to ensure public safety during Calgary’s frequent high-wind events.
The first two phases post-storm involved The City’s emergency response e.g. removing downed trees and branches from roadways and the initial recovery e.g. assessing and tagging all public trees for either repair or removal. For the third phase, Restoration, The City identified that it would need to engage private property owners to get around access to private property issues as well as to manage the sheer scope of restoring two million trees, three-quarters of which resided on private property.
The ReTree YYC campaign was created to raise Calgarians’ awareness of the vital role that trees play in our community well-being, and to activate them in properly assessing, pruning, re-planting and caring for the trees on their property.