Urban Forest Questions for HRM Candidates - District 11 Candidate Dawn E. Penney

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 Dawn E. Penney's (Candidate for Councillor, Spryfield - Sambro Loop - Prospect Road) answers to our questions.

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

1.         Why are trees important to you?

Trees are important to me because they create clean air, are a natural rest or playground and provide beauty to our world.

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

There is an apple tree in the yard where I grew up (on Cape Sable Island) that provided me branches to climb and something bitter sweet to eat. As an only child this tree provided me much needed companionship without ever saying a word and was always there for me when I felt down.

3.         Why are trees important in HRM and your district in particular?

They are important for many ecological and financial reasons that you'd read in the Urban Forest report. However, in a world that is ever changing - a healthy tree can be a familiar staple in a community for hundreds of years and not many things can provide a consistent existence that stretches across generations like that. This is important in District 11 because so many families are rooted here and stay here so, if we care about trees, their children's children can experience the same greenery as their foremothers and fathers.

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)?

Spryfield East/West - Leiblin Park - Rockingstone - Thornhill - Purcell's Cove East/West - maybe parts of Cowie Hill, Williamswood and Boulderwood too.

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 do not think these priorities have been adequately addressed. I believe there is room for improvement with planting more nut and fruit bearing trees and by promoting educational programs that teach residents what benefits certain tree species have so that they can have better direction when planting their own trees.

Looking Forward

6.         What do you believe is the greatest threat to the HRM urban forest? In your district specifically?

I believe the greatest threat is unbridled development.

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

I suggest that they research and pick (or ask their property owner about) what type of fruit or nut bearing tree would best grow in their yard then plant it!

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

I will promote and contribute to a healthy urban forest by having environmental good and impact in the forefront of my mind and heart in every council decision that it applies to.

9.         What changes would you like to see to your district’s urban forest in the next 10 years?

My district has the largest amount of planted sites and the largest amount of unplanted sites so I would like to see District 11 keep the largest number of planted sites while boasting the smallest number of unplanted sites.

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Thank you to Dawn E. Penney 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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