Urban Forest Questions for HRM Candidates - District 5 Candidate Ned Milburn

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 Ned Milburn'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?

Community building (studies have shown shade trees provide a place for humans to congregate), Peace (studies have shown that trees dampen city machinery noises and help calm people's spirits), Environment (trees help filter our air, store excess rainwater, help stabilize soil against erosion), Recreation (how many kids DON'T enjoy climbing trees?), Trees bring birds.

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

Too many to share!!  Tree climbing as a kid, walking through forests, enjoying the largest and oldest cherry tree in Japan, enjoying my backyard trees with the birds and ripple of the wind in their leaves...

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

I have lived in several urban areas in Montreal, Toronto, Japan, and have visited others in Spain, France, and New York.  The most pleasing urban experiences I have had are when the city had an abundance of trees and greenery.  Dartmouth STILL has an abundance of trees and greenery, but there are examples of "in-filling" with new building developments that remove most green-space and replace it with cement and asphalt.  We must avoid the trend of removal of green space and trees in our neighbourhoods.

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 460 page PDF won't display properly on my web browser.  I cannot answer this question.

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?

Most residents know nothing of this plan, so communication of the plan has been lacking.  Further public education and engagement is important, and it is also VERY important to make sure that all new developments are required to consider green-space courtyard areas, green-space "relaxation" areas (ie: some wider green spaces in the Baker Drive Sobeys/Kent parking area would have been a benefit), or "green" rooftops similar to the new Halifax Library.  It is not always about spending more money; rather, it is important to be careful and considerate in our actions and decisions.

Looking Forward

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

Infilling with concrete and asphalt in our rush for higher density.

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

Educate oneself, and speak up through community groups and directly to one's Councillor.

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

Require the discussion of green space minimum provisions for all future developments.

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

First, let's not lose what we have.  Second, let's identify areas that could have green spaces expanded and/or enhanced.

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Thank you to Ned Milburn 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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