Urban Forest Questions for HRM Candidates - Mayoral Candidate Lil MacPherson

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 Lil MacPherson's (Candidate for Mayor) answers to our questions.

Candidate's responses are in regular font, like this!

1.         Why are trees important to you?

They are everything to me. Something as elegant as a tree? Words from one of my hero's William McDonough.  "Imagine this design assignment: Design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, makes complex sugars and foods, changes colors with the seasons, and self-replicates. and then why don't we knock that down and write on it?"  We need to respect trees like our life depends on it ... cause it does.

2.         Can you relate a fond memory of trees or a tree in particular?

When I was  8 years old my best friend and I had a very special favourite tree and we loved it. It was a magical tree to 2 little girls. The dreaded day came when a new road was built and our tree was on the list to come down. We sat in the tree all day to protect it and tell the workers it's ours not theirs. We of course lost this small battle and cried all the way home. 

3.         Why are trees important in HRM?

There are many huge benefits to us all ... In one big breath .. they are the lungs of our city, and they makes us feel good inside, and shade us when the sun is high. They stop soil erosion and deal with the rain as it falls.( which helps in City storm water management) They help sequester carbon, filters our water and fight Climate Change. They make homes for the song birds and many other animals that live in them. They have so much to teach us, and play a critical role in the health of our city. If I was mayor I would be going around finding Old Growth Acadian Forest tree's and labeling them all over the municipality. ( you would need a special permit to take down an old growth tree)  I would LOVE to put the "Park" back in the Parking Lot. They could also help us feed our city with fruit orchards all over the Region. Tree's are just the best piece of furniture we could ever invest in.

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 neighbourhood do you live in?

Cole Harbour / Woodlawn

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?

 I don't think we are doing near enough. In one area we are allowing Old growth trees to be cut down by anyone anytime. Needs to be a special permit. And Clear Cutting should be our history, not what we do in the present. More respect needed for the lungs of our province. 

Looking Forward

6.         What do you believe is the greatest threat to the HRM urban forest?

Unconscience Development.  Not seeing the integral role they play in ALL development infrastructure.

7.         What role do you suggest citizens play in supporting a healthy urban forest?

To be aware of the trees in their own backyard. Respect and learn what the trees have to ofter. Knowing the names of their own trees would be wonderful and a good start.  Knowledge breeds respect.

8.         How will you promote and contribute to a healthy urban forest as mayor?

 I would educate the city on sustainable forestry and the history of NS Old Growth Acadian Forest by labeling random trees and telling the story throughout all of HRM. ( fun to walk outside your door and see your tree is one of the special stories)  A special permit would be needed to cut any old growth trees, or old large trees and I would encourage the owner to donate the large trunk be given to a Artist to carve and display in our city.  Address a no Clear Cut bylaw and Glyphosate spraying. I would encourage the Green belt to be a Go, and start our designs.   Schools: every student Primary to 12 would have to plant a tree (different species)  every school year.

9.         What changes would you like to see HRM's urban forest in the next 10 years?

I would like to be known in Canada as having the richest, most diverse Urban forests in the country. And a city with putting the word "Park" back in our Parking lots".  Large open asphalt parking lots are now a thing of the past.   HRM will be known as the city of Orchard Festivals. AND planting more of our Old Growth Forest for our cities future.

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Thank you to Lil MacPherson 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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