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Woolwich eyes new guidelines for tree planting, greening related to development

Long-discussed new standards for planting trees as part of development projects in Woolwich are now starting to take form.

Meeting Tuesday night, council looked at tree planting and landscaping design guidelines that would help boost the green canopy in the township and help newly planted trees to have a better chance of surviving.

The policy would require developers to provide more and better topsoil, for instance, increasing the viability of trees and other plants in new subdivisions. The review also looks at environmental measures in areas such as commercial parking lots.

The changes are in line with the recent Township of Woolwich Environmental Enhancement Committee (TWEEC) green infrastructure report, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley told councillors December 18.

He identified four key guidelines in the draft proposal: a minimum width of 1.5 metres for planting widths on boulevards, a 300 millimetre topsoil depth, mandated soil quality and a planting area of at least 15 cubic metres for new trees.

Though welcoming the changes, Coun. Patrick Merlihan suggested they perhaps didn’t go far enough, decrying a “middle of the road” approach of, for instance, a new topsoil depth requirement of 300mm instead of a TWEEC-recommended doubling of the current 200mm.

“Maybe we want to be champions of the environment, he said.

Coun. Larry Shantz stressed the need for hard targets rather than leaving too much discretion in the new rules.

In response, Kennaley noted the policy is something of a starting point for the sake of discussion. The township plans to consult with developers and open the process up to public input

“We can learn from the consultation process,” he said.

“In the end, it’s going to be up to council to decide what the number will be.”

Kennaley said his department plans to start consultations with developers and hold public meetings as early as the first quarter of the year.

New guidelines would go beyond those established first in 2010 for guiding the landscaping component of various site plan and subdivision developments.

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