Urban Forest Strategy draft presented Thursday

Public presentation runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20 in the Oak Bay Rec Centre's Upper Lounge

The District of Oak Bay and Diamond Head Consulting invite the community to a presentation of the draft Urban Forest Strategy Thursday.

The presentation in the Upper Lounge at Oak Bay Rec Centre will provide information about the draft and outline direction for the future related to: an overall urban forest vision; canopy cover growth targets; changes due to aging trees; tree health and maintenance; the role of the urban forest in Oak Bay; canopy protection on public/private lands; changes due to development and infill; and new tree planting opportunities.

“We have a draft that is going to be presented to the public Thursday night and committee of the whole and the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission Friday morning,” said Chris Hyde-Lay, Oak Bay’s manager of Parks.

About 100 people turned out to the initial townhall meeting in the spring and another 320 or so completed online and hardcopy surveys.

“It became ever so apparent that the urban forest is incredibly important to people,” he said.

“What’s really come to light is the wonderful services the trees provide,” from wildlife habitat and stormwater management to streetscape beautification and  carbon storage, he added.

In addition to outlining the current extent and age of Oak Bay’s urban forest, the strategy suggests a goal of a 40 per cent tree canopy by 2045, compared to the current canopy of about 33 per cent.

That goal takes into consideration current trees that are mature or over-mature, Hyde-Lay said, noting Oak Bay loses more trees to disease and age, death and over-maturity than to development. It also outlines optimal tree canopy percentage by land use or zoning.

The draft strategy includes a variety of recommendations, such as bylaw adjustments and three five-year work plans. “The whole strategy really focuses on overall increasing the canopy cover,” Hyde-Lay said.

Residents are encouraged to come to presentation, ask questions and provide input.

“The more feedback, the better,” Hyde-Lay said.

The Urban Forest Strategy draft presentation runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20 in the Upper Lounge of the Oak Bay Recreation Centre, 1975 Bee St. For information, call Oak Bay Parks at 250-592-7275.