Urban Forest Questions for HRM Candidates - District 2 Candidate Sydnee L McKay

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 Sydnee L McKay's (Candidate for Councillor, Preston - Chezzetcook - Eastern Shore) answers to our questions.

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

1.         Why are trees important to you?

Without trees, we will not exist. Without trees our children will not be able to enjoy nature as I did when I was growing up. I am a hiker and avid outdoors person. Everyone who knows me knows I love it outside more than inside. Being in the forest is my drug of choice. When I am out in the forest, it is a feeling I can't describe. It's my peace. It's my medication. There is nothing more important to me than our environment. Without it, like I said, we will not exist.

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

I have many fond memories of trees growing up. I was among them everyday. One in particular, I remember was when I was climbing my favorite climbing tree across from Cyril and Annette Keating in Little Harbour, Halifax County. I would wander about my special spots in nature and climb this tree almost every day. Cyril came over one day and told me that I should get down out of the tree as I may get hurt. He was only looking out for my best interested. For some reason, I always remembered this, but I never stopped climbing trees.

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

I took a drive down towards Sheet Harbour on Tuesday. There are so many dead coniferous trees that I couldn't believe it. We need to find out why these are all dead. I was actually surprised that nothing was being said about this. Without trees,  we will not have insects, bees, animals or humans. A lot of these are already extinct. They are our oxygen, the very root of our survival. Trees are important everywhere.

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)?

Below is a list of my district:

I am not sure if any of these area ares included in UFMP. It seems we are mostly rural, but the importance of trees is the same in all areas. :)

Westphal; Lawrencetown; Cherry Brook; Preston;East Preston; Lawrencetown; East Lawrencetown; Mineville; Lake Echo; Middle Porters Lake; West Porters Lake; Porters Lake; Conrod Settlement; Three Fathom Harbour; Lower Three Fathom Harbour; Seaforth; Grand Desert; Head Chezzetcook; West Chezzetcook; Lower East Chezzetcook; Musquodoboit Harbour; East Petpeswick; West Petpeswick. Barkhouse Settlement; Beaver Dam; Beaver Harbour; Beech Hill; Clam Bay; Clam Harbour; Debaie’s Cove; East Jeddore; East Quoddy; East Ship Harbour; Ecum Secum; Ecum Secum West; Gaetz Brook; Governor Lake; Harrigan Cove; Hartlin Settlement; Head of Jeddore; Jacket Lake; Lake Charlotte; Liscomb Sanctuary; Little Harbour; Lochaber Mines; Lower Ship Harbour; Malay Falls; Marinette; Mitchell Bay; Moosehead; Mooseland; Moser River; Murphy Cove; Mushaboom; Myers Point; Necum Teuch; Ostrea Lake; Owls Head; Oyster Pond; Pace Settlement; Pleasant Harbour; Pleasant Point; Popes Harbour; Port Dufferin; Rjver Lake; Salmon River Bridge; Sheet Harbour; Sheet Harbour Passage; Ship Harbour; Smiths Settlement; Sober Island; Southwest Cove; Spry Bay; Tangier; Third Lake; Trafalgar; Upper Lakeville; Watt Section; West Jeddore; West Quoddy

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?

No, all of these areas need improvement. Like I said, the tree is our life and our breath. Without these, we have nothing.

Looking Forward

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

The spraying of poisons in our forest and clear cutting.

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

We need the citizens to get more educated on how important the environment is. We need to get back to protecting what is important. We need to get back to urban and rural farming to protect our trees, our food systems, our bees, butterflies, birds, animals and humans.

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

I am already promoting a petition to stop spraying of poisons in our forest urban and rural. We all need to stick together to protect our trees and our environment.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopSprayingNS/

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

More trees, more urban farms and more education about our environment. I am Acadian. We should learn from our ancestors.

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Thank you to Sydnee L McKay 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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