Urban Forest Questions for HRM Candidates – District 12 Candidate Bruce Smith

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 Bruce Smith’s (Candidate for Councillor, Timberlea – Beechville – Clayton Park – Wedgewood) answers to our questions.Candidate’s responses are in regular font, like this!1.         Why are trees important to you?Trees create a balance between our communities and nature. They  replenish the soil and provide us with oxygen. In the fall of the year they provide breathtaking beauty in the spring our sign of rebirth.2.         Can you relate a fond memory of trees or a tree in particular? As a child, we obviously did not have computers and television was very limited. Growing up on the edge of the forest, we spend most of our time playing in the woods which are now either developed or part of the Mainland Common. Fortunately, every day I still have the opportunity to walk with my dog in these woods.3.         Why are trees important in HRM and your district in particular? I live in a community of condominium townhouses. Over the life of this community the landscaping has always been handled in a professional manner, resulting in beautiful gardens and mature trees.  Not only do we receive countless compliments from visitors our mature landscaping adds economic value to our homes.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)?Clayton Park and Clayton Park WestThe 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 must believe that within the human resources and financial budgets much has been done to meet the requirements of this plan. Should I be elected as counsellor for district 12, I will investigate the status and monitor it on a regular basis. The Urban Forest is very important to me.Looking Forward6.         What do you believe is the greatest threat to the HRM urban forest? In your district specifically? The clearcutting of proposed development areas is of major concern to me. I believe that the HRM planning department must change their policy and forbid developers from clearcutting lands planned for communities. Community should be designed around existing mature and near mature trees. 7.         What role do you suggest citizens play in supporting a healthy urban forest? A few years ago, the city planning department proposed a development in the North Cliff Park, in Clayton Park. This is a small park that consisted of a recreation centre, a tennis court and a few acres of forest with a wonderful little trail.  The planning department wanted to sell the entire park and proposed are R2 zoning for the forest the area.  The public came out in full force against this plan  and we won. Never let anyone tell you you cannot fight City Hall! 8.         How will you promote and contribute to a healthy urban forest as councilor? I believe you will find my answer in the questions above. 9.         What changes would you like to see to your district’s urban forest in the next 10 years? I would like to see larger trees planted along with the roadways in District 12. Many of the small trees that have been planted are all healthy or dead. Better management is required.–Thank you to Bruce Smith 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.