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 Patrick Murphy's (Candidate for Councillor, Halifax Peninsula North) answers to our questions.
Candidate's responses are in regular font, like this!
1. Why are trees important to you?
Because they give us oxygen, provide shade from hot sun, provide natural space for bird life (and other wildlife) to enjoy, they can cause natural shadow for pavement to preserve it, they`re beautiful, and lots of other reasons.
2. Can you relate a fond memory of trees or a tree in particular?
When I first went to my wife`s neighbourhood she showed me a huge, beautiful tree she played around as a child. I gave it a big hug. This is true.
3. Why are trees important in HRM and your district in particular?
Halifax is known as the city of trees. Halifax in the older parts of the city trees perform a natural umbrella of protection of city streets.
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)?
Harbour-Windsor, North End, Halifax Central
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 think there is most room for improvement on C, promoting forest stewardship and developing educational programs.
6. What do you believe is the greatest threat to the HRM urban forest? In your district specifically?
Pollution from Tufts Cove plant, stress of development, for example where some older growth trees were removed at Saint Josephs square project, age of trees, does not seem to be consistent pruning of trees street by street on an on-going basis.
7. What role do you suggest citizens play in supporting a healthy urban forest?
Understanding the purpose of the urban forest and how it contributes to their healthy lifestyle, engagement with information on trees, where they can - citizens growing their own trees.
8. How will you promote and contribute to a healthy urban forest as councilor?
By following the Urban Forest Master Plan, already endorsed by city council.
9. What changes would you like to see to your district’s urban forest in the next 10 years?
Better management of trees. Better reaction of HRM staff to situations where trees damage homes. I have seen an example of this on Pacific street where a citizen`s siding and home was damaged because of trees, and who pays for that.
Thank you to Patrick Murphy 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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