Halifax Diverse has been active in urban environmental stewardship for four years and we understand the importance of a healthy urban forest to thriving cities. With the upcoming municipal election (online now and at the polls on October 15), we wanted to find out if all candidates plan to be good urban forest stewards. We asked the same nine questions of all 56 municipal candidates and 26 replied (click here for the entire list).
Here are Kate Watson's (Candidate for Councillor, Dartmouth Centre) answers to our questions.
Candidate's responses are in regular font, like this!
1. Why are trees important to you?
Trees have a huge beneficial impact on the environment, they support wildlife, they provide shade, recreation and beauty. They make a city a more desirable place to live!
2. Can you relate a fond memory of trees or a tree in particular?
There was a beautiful little copse of trees by my suburban home when I was growing up. It was a place I could go where I could imagine and play.
3. Why are trees important in HRM and your district in particular?
Dartmouth is proud of its lakes and green spaces. Our trees give lend character to our streets and are a source of local pride.
HRM's Urban Forest Master Plan
The HRM UFMP is a council endorsed plan co-written by HRM staff and members of Dalhousie University's School for Resource and Environmental Studies. This award winning document provides guidance for the management of HRM's urban forest into the future using a novel neighbourhood system developed specifically for the UFMP that divides the sewer and water serviced areas of HRM into 111 neighbourhoods. It can be found digitally at: http://www.halifax.ca/property/UFMP/documents/SecondEditionHRMUFMP.pdf
4. Which UFMP neighbourhoods does your district occupy (if applicable)?
The following are priorities of the UFMP implementation strategy, as described in the UFMP, and are to be implemented within the initial 5-year timeframe:
a. Increase funding, plant more trees on HRM land and improve urban forest maintenance.
b. Adopt new regulations and standards to conserve urban forest canopy cover.
c. Promote citizen urban forest stewardship and develop educational programs.
5. As we approach the end of the 5-year initial time-frame in 2017, do you believe these priorities have been adequately addressed? Where is there room for the most significant improvement?
These priorities are being addresses, but there is always room for improvement!
6. What do you believe is the greatest threat to the HRM urban forest? In your district specifically?
Development that does not prioritize the protection of existing trees and the planting of new trees.
7. What role do you suggest citizens play in supporting a healthy urban forest?
Citizens need to speak up and say the urban forest is vital to the health and vitality of our urban centre.
8. How will you promote and contribute to a healthy urban forest as councilor?
I will support and champion the Urban Forest Master Plan.
9. What changes would you like to see to your district’s urban forest in the next 10 years?
I'd like to see the inclusion of more fruit and nut-bearing trees.
Thank you to Kate Watson and all the other candidates who took the time to answer our questionnaire. We hope that our new municipal government will continue to improve urban forest stewardship in HRM to protect a vital natural resource that cannot be taken for granted. Voters are encouraged to challenge their candidates' stance on this and other environmental issues to ensure our municipal government strives for environmental sustainability. Anyone interested in learning more about the Urban Forest Master Plan can learn more from the document, found here, or the UFMP page, found here.
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