Urban Forest Questions for HRM Candidates – District 10 Candidate Russell Walker
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 Russell Walker’s (Candidate for Councillor, Bedford Basin West) answers to our questions.Candidate’s responses are in regular font, like this!1. Why are trees important to you?They help to keep our environment clean and provide protection.2. Can you relate a fond memory of trees or a tree in particular?The tree that held my swing when I was growing up and is still standing. 3. Why are trees important in HRM and your district in particular?My district was part of the UFMP and over 700 trees have been planted in my district.HRM’s Urban Forest Master PlanThe 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.pdf4. Which UFMP neighbourhoods does your district occupy (if applicable)?Mainland NorthThe 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?For the most part they have been adequately addressed with the resources that we had. There’s always room for improvement. Looking Forward6. What do you believe is the greatest threat to the HRM urban forest? In your district specifically?New developments. 7. What role do you suggest citizens play in supporting a healthy urban forest?Become involved and active in the urban forest.8. How will you promote and contribute to a healthy urban forest as councilor?Continue to support Blue Mountain and the Backlands.9. What changes would you like to see to your district’s urban forest in the next 10 years?More trees being planted and trees already present preserved as much as possible.–Thank you to Russell Walker 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. Please join Halifax Diverse on facebook for environmental programming, news, and more.