The city is offering residents up to 2,000 free trees to grow Calgary’s canopy
As part of a low profile program by the City of Calgary, citizens will be able to receive up to three trees for free this year.
The city has been offering its Branching Out program since 2019. But this year the number of trees donated has quadrupled.
Two thousand trees of different species are offered. The city is providing 500 trees for each of Calgary’s four quadrants.
Anyone interested in trees must complete an online module and then register their interest by a specified date.
The first filing date was February 13 for residents in the Northwest.
City of Calgary Parks Programs Manager Trina Vickery said all 500 trees for the quadrant were picked in less than a day.
“It was extremely fast. I was shocked at how fast the trees went,” Vickery said.
Double the canopy
Vickery said the goal of the program is to expand the city’s tree canopy.
Currently, the city estimates that about 8.25 percent of the city is covered by tree canopy. But Vickery said her goal is to increase that number to 16 percent by 2060.
Apart from a website with information about the program, there isn’t much advertising for the tree gifts.
“Really, the program was word of mouth. The only real promotion we did was the first year of the pilot, just to kind of let people know it’s available. Please sign up for a tree,” Vickery said.
The program costs about $90,000. A merchant in BC is supplying the city with 11 different species of trees for the giveaway.
Those who have successfully registered will be contacted this spring with details of when to pick up their tree at a nearby LRT or BRT station.
Vickery said their distribution plan is designed to give residents in all parts of the city an equal chance to get a free tree.
Northeast needs justice, Councilor says
count. Raj Dhaliwal said he supports the program but is disappointed with the distribution plan.
“It’s about equality, but not about justice. And my focus is on justice,” said Dhaliwal.
He said areas in the city’s northeast like Ward 5, which he represents, have fewer trees than other parts of Calgary.
“On the northeast, east, and southeast sides, we can clearly see — and this is the city’s data — that the urban canopy is way, way behind the rest of the city.”
The city council said in his community, trees are badly needed.
“In Saddleridge, which was the lowest of any community, it’s 1.27 percent. Taradale is highest at 2.67 percent in Ward 5,” said Dhaliwal.
“I would have liked to see them target the areas that have deficiencies and where we need to increase the tree canopy.”
The remaining upcoming dates for online registrations under the Branching Out program are as follows:
Southwest Calgary: February 28
Southeast Calgary: March 15
Northeast Calgary: March 30
Visit the city’s website for more information about the program.