The City of Castlegar has a vision of creating an urban forest. The vision uses a modern urban forestry model where trees are viewed as critical infrastructure, not ornaments, the focus is on overall forest management, the economic value of trees is recognized, emphasis is placed on larger long-lived canopy trees and ecological based design is used over design that is primarily aesthetic.
The way the city plans to see this vision come to be is laid out in the Street Tree Master Plan (STMP) that was recently released. The plan has been in the works for about a year and a half and has included professional and public consultations that culminated in the report put together by McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd.
According to the report, “The City of Castlegar, through a series of public engagement exercises, has chosen to make the planting and care of trees along its busy highway corridor, in key gateway areas, in expansive parking lots, and in residential neighbourhoods a high priority.”
The plan lays out benefits to the community including: safer, shadier, more beautiful sidewalks and cycle routes; distinctive neighbourhood character; cleaner air, water, and land; increased climate-change resilience and enhanced property values and business revenues.
City of Castlegar planning technician Shannon Marshall was one of the staff members who worked on the long term plan. “It is an important step in achieving some key goals in the city’s official community plan,” he said. “It’s about creating pedestrian friendly tree-lined streets with bicycle use pathways, it helps promote active transportation and a healthy vibrant community. The street tree program enhances the gateways to Castlegar, the streetscapes within the city and will help create an even more desirable community for residents to live and work and for visitors to visit.”
The STMP is designed to be a tool that will serve as guiding document in helping the city develop a population of healthy, attractive, colourful, and manageable street trees. It also includes the best practices for selection, planting, and maintenance of the trees. It coordinates with other plans already in place such as the Millennium Park Master Plan (2011),Landscape Master Plan (2008), Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan (2007) and Zoning Bylaw 800 (1999).
As there are more trees found on residential properties than on city land, the document also has guidance for property owners so the can contribute to the overall vision.
The plan divides the city into distinct districts, each with its own feel and with tree selections that will best suit the area. Downtown (north of 7th St.) will feature small to medium columnar trees with red fall foliage on Columbia and gold fall foliage on the side streets. Columbia Ave. commercial (7th St. to 15th St.) will feature medium to large vase shaped trees with gold fall foliage. Columbia Ave. residential commercial (south of 24th St.) will feature medium to large pyramidal canopy trees. Other districts include Millennium Park gateway, highway interchanges, parking lots, south gateway, residential, commercial and transitional development.
The plan describes itself as, “A powerful tool to achieve multiple objectives… expanding downtown revitalization, creating distinctive gateways and neighbourhoods, promoting environmental quality and resilience, supporting energy sustainability and active transportation, and guiding property owners so they can contribute to the vision.
A complete copy of the 86 page report can be found on the City of Castlegar website or at City Hall.