Tree planting program soars in Whitby

 

The Town of Whitby, formally recognized last year as a Tree City of the World, is expanding a hugely successful tree planting program that has trees and shrubs planted in the backyards of participating homeowners.

The LEAF Backyard Tree Planting Program was launched last year and has generated so much interest from residents the Town has had to expand its target more than three times its original goal.

Under the program, administered by LEAF, a not-for-profit organization providing tree planting services around the GTA, homeowners apply for a tree or shrub to be planted. They receive an on-site consultation with a certified arborist from LEAF to determine appropriate species and planting locations.

The tree is then planted in the spring or fall. The partially subsidized cost to the homeowner is between $180-$220, depending on the species.

The Durham LEAF Backyard Tree Planting launched in 2020 and is a joint program between LEAF, the Region of Durham, Town of Whitby, City of Oshawa, City of Pickering, Township of Scugog and the Town of Ajax.

In the past year, Whitby has planted 237 trees and shrubs. The next closest municipality is Oshawa with 97.

“There have been so many trees cut down in the past and we really need that canopy,” Councillor JoAnne Drumm said at Monday’s Committee of the Whole Meeting. “Baby steps I know, but this is a great program.”

LEAF was awarded a five-year contract to provide the tree planting services for $30,000 per year, with half of that money coming from the Region of Durham. Whitby’s share will be funded sponsorships and other operating budget savings.

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