Opposition Councillors unite to seek ABC support to expand urban tree canopy to fight global warming and protect peoples’ health city-wide

“Increasing Vancouver’s tree canopy will make our city safer, healthier and more resilient to climate change,” says Vancouver Green Councillor Adriane Carr

Vancouver, BC - Vancouver Green Party Councillor Adriane Carr and OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle will table a joint motion at the City Council meeting on June 12, 2024.
The motion, titled Increasing Vancouver’s Tree Canopy for a Safer, Healthier City, seeks to enhance and expand on Mayor Sim and ABC’s unfulfilled campaign promise of planting 100,000 trees across Vancouver. It aims to address tree canopy inequities and vulnerabilities across neighbourhoods by planting climate-resilient trees that are able to withstand more extreme weather and drought.

Urban tree canopies keep cities cooler, especially in extreme heat events.The motion prioritizes tree planting in areas with lower tree canopy coverage that are disproportionately affected by heatwaves. According to a report on 2021 heat dome deaths by the BC Coroners Service, the “least materially and socially advantaged” neighbourhoods have fewer trees and green spaces, and as a result, higher temperatures “(urban heat islands”). In Vancouver, compared to the city’s West side, there are fewer trees and less tree canopy coverage on the East and South sides, leaving people living there more vulnerable to extreme heat.

The motion recommends that city staff update maps of Vancouver’s tree canopy, and identify areas where the canopy may be inadequate and at risk. “We know Vancouver’s tree canopy is already at risk due to insufficient watering and care of newly planted trees,” says Green Councillor Adriane Carr. But, she adds, “The city’s big, older trees are now increasingly threatened by droughts, lethal heat domes and high winds, as well as by new city-wide higher density residential zoning, given that 45% of Vancouver’s trees are on private land.”

The motion asks staff to report back to Council by the end of Q4 2024 with a plan, timeline, and operating budget for planting and tending 100,000 trees. Other recommendations include: a comprehensive review of the city's tree protection and replacement strategies with a focus on retaining mature trees and planting heat and drought-resilient species; the re-establishment of popular urban forestry programs including subsidized tree sales to encourage planting trees on private property, and an "adopt a tree" volunteer program where young trees on city boulevards are watered and cared for by residents.

Many scientific studies have shown that robust urban tree canopies improve air quality by absorbing pollutants; keep the streets cool by providing shade; increase species biodiversity; enhance the mental and physical well being of residents; and mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide. This motion highlights how expanding the city’s tree canopy is a practical and natural way to build neighbourhood and climate resilience. Increasing Vancouver’s Tree Canopy for a Safer, Healthier City underscores the Vancouver Green Party’s commitment to a sustainable and livable city for all.

The motion will be discussed and considered in the upcoming Wednesday June 12th Vancouver City Council meeting.

Link to motion: https://council.vancouver.ca/20240612/documents/pspcA4.pdf