Urban Forest Questions for HRM Candidates – District 5 Candidate Tim Rissesco

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 Tim Rissesco’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?Trees: combat climate change; clean the air; provide oxygen; cool the streets and provide shade – blocking UV rays; help conserve energy;  prevent soil erosion;  provide food; and are good for our health & well being.2.         Can you relate a fond memory of trees or a tree in particular?I remember planting trees as a Cub and thinking about how I was helping to rebuild a forest.  As a child, I learned that as an individual you can have an impact.3.         Why are trees important in HRM and your district in particular?Parks and Recreation are important for HRM and particularly important for DIstrict 5.  District 5 is fortunate to have beautiful parks with mature trees, an urban orchard and forested areas.  The trees provide many benefits to the residents – shade, food and peaceful spaces.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)?South Woodside, Dartmouth Central, Harbourview, Park Avenue, Austenville, Crichton Park, Downtown Dartmouth, Hawthorne, Silvers Hill, Lakefront, Graham’s Corner, Manor Park,, Woodside Industrial Park and Southdale/North Woodside.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?We need to continue to plant more trees and provide maintenance to the existing trees.Looking Forward6.         What do you believe is the greatest threat to the HRM urban forest? In your district specifically?In District 5,  we need to maintain our tree so that mature trees are not lost to storms and disease and we need to continue to rejuvenate the forest with plantings.7.         What role do you suggest citizens play in supporting a healthy urban forest?Citizens can plant trees on their properties and participate in public plantinfs in parks.8.         How will you promote and contribute to a healthy urban forest as councilor?Promote and support  public plantings and urban orchards9.         What changes would you like to see to your district’s urban forest in the next 10 years?more fruit trees–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.