Public positive about Red Deer Urban Forest Management Plan

Red Deerians had their say on what the city should do with its urban forest.

About 10 people attended a public consultation session Wednesday where a draft of the city’s Urban Forest Management Plan was presented.

“It was a very positive meeting,” said parks planning and technical supervisor Dave Matthews. “The people that came were obviously very passionate about our trees and urban forest.”

The draft of the 20-year plan plan guides the monitoring, maintenance, protection and enhancement of the urban forest in Red Deer. At the meeting the vision, principles, objectives and action items from the plan were discussed.

Overall the group liked the plan, Matthews said, and mostly made suggestions to change the wording for certain parts of the plan.

“They had a lot of great input,” Matthews said. “They had comments right away on the vision statement, because they wanted it to be stronger, have more life and be more dynamic, which is great.”

Though the plan is not the final draft, the meeting gave attendees an idea of what the plan is all about and what the intentions of the plan are.

A main focus of the meeting was to discuss the city’s plan for its planted trees, as those is more difficult to manage than natural areas, Matthews said.

Also discussed was being able to keep the health of the urban forest up. Some of the problems that may be seen include disease, drought, development challenges and dealing with weather issues, like the recent wind storm in Red Deer.

“There’s all kinds of thing affecting the health of our urban forest we need to look at. We feel we do a good job, but you can always do better,” Matthews said.

Matthews said he was happy seeing 10 people come out to the meeting, adding there are a few more who reached out to him directly who couldn’t make it on Wednesday. He sent those individuals information on what was presented and a survey to get their input.

Development on the plan began in January between the city and Urban Forest Innovations, an urban forest and arboricultural consultancy based in Mississauga, Ont.

Following consultation with the public, a final draft of the plan will be internally finished. The plan is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

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