City crews are removing more than 50 sick elm trees along Stephen Avenue downtown.
The non-native Brandon elms, planted 15 years ago between Centre Street and 2nd Street S.E., have been under attack on two fronts.
They’re suffering from elm scale- a common and longstanding problem across the city, but they have an added challenge because they were planted in concrete containers.
“They have limited resources,” explains Jill-Anne Spence, an urban forestry employee with the City of Calgary. “They have limited access to water and nutrients.”
That’s left the trees susceptible to a new menace: bacterial leaf scorch. It clogs the trees’ pores, causing them to die of thirst.
Crews are using an auger to grind up the tree roots. They are then using hydro-vacs to suck up the wood from the concrete vaults.
The elms will be replaced with locally-sourced white ash trees, which are a hardy breed the city hopes stand a better chance of surviving in downtown’s concrete jungle.