Cost to plant 1M trees in Winnipeg is $43M, city report says

Adding one million trees to Winnipeg's canopy over the next 20 years will cost $43 million, according to a new report from the city. University of Manitoba/Faculty of Architecture

Too bad money doesn’t grow on trees.

According to a new report presented to the City of Winnipeg’s protection, community services and parks committee, Mayor Brian Bowman’s goal of planting one million trees will cost about $43 million over the next 20 years.

“In order to complete this project by 2040, fundraising needs will be in excess of $2 million per year and approximately 50,000 trees will need to be planted per year,” author Dave Domke said in his report.

Domke said the city currently doesn’t have the resources to plant that many trees every year.

“Building this capacity will take up to five years and will involve establishing agreements with stakeholders, arranging for nurseries to establish their supply and determining how best to educate and involve the public,” Domke said.

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READ MORE: City says clean-up of Winnipeg’s storm-damaged trees could take a year

In September 2019, Bowman announced the One Million Tree Challenge in a bid to plant one million trees inside city limits as Winnipeg grows in population towards one million people.

The goal is “a net expansion and growth in our tree canopy beyond replacing existing trees lost to age or disease,” according to the city. The program hopes to get residents, businesses and agencies to help meet the challenge.

The report recommended the city give a grant of $140,000 to Trees Winnipeg to lead the program for one year, but the report states that five years will likely be needed to “reach these optimal planting levels.”

The recommendation to provide the grant was passed and will go to city council for final approval on Feb. 27.

Some other points of the program include:

  • A survival rate of 75 per cent at Year 3 of planting should be targeted.
  • The size of trees planted must be appropriate to the situation. In most cases, seedlings are not appropriate and would not survive in the urban environment.
  • Maintenance (watering, mulching, pruning, etc.) until trees are established is essential.
  • Educating homeowners and volunteers about how to plant and maintain their trees must be a component of the program.
  • Only appropriate tree species must be selected for Winnipeg’s climate and to minimize mortality due to disease and insects.
  • Natural regeneration by allowing for existing trees to seed and sucker along the edges of existing forests should be a component of this program.
  • Existing trees must be protected and preserved wherever possible.

Winnipeg’s tree canopy is currently recovering from a severe snowstorm in October of last year that damaged tens of thousands of trees.

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City forester Martha Barwinsky said after the storm that about 30,000 of the city’s 300,000 trees were damaged and that it could take up to one year to clean up the damage.

Read the full report below: 

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