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Adopt trees or catch basins - or crunch data - in New West for Earth Day 2022

What’s happening in New Westminster for Earth Day 2022?
In 2020, Leah Cote helped the environment by tending to a tree in her neighbourhood. Her dad (Mayor Jonathan Cote) adopted a tree for Leah - after she asked for it for her birthday. Lisa King/The Record

What is Earth Day?

Each April 22, cities around the world celebrate Earth Day to demonstrate support for environmental protection. This year’s theme is Invest in Our Planet.

“Earth Day, first celebrated in 1970, was conceived as a means of raising public environmental consciousness,” said a report to council. “Although Earth Day incorporates many environmental themes, there has been a great focus in more recent years on both clean energy and efforts related to combatting global climate change.”

How does New West celebrate Earth Day?

In past years the city has hosted an environmental poster contest for local students, community cleanups, invasive plant removal events and free compost giveaways. This year, the City of New Westminster is giving community members an opportunity to participate in three programs in acknowledgement of Earth Day – the Adopt A Street Tree and Adopt A Catch Basin programs and an Earth Day Datathon.

The report to council said an interdepartmental staff team collaborated on three opportunities to connect residents to help them feel engaged and empowered in a collective effort to improving the city’s stormwater management, growing the urban forest and, and supporting energy-efficient buildings.

“New West residents care deeply about the environment, and our Earth Day program encourages and engages residents to participate in local environmental efforts,” said Mayor Jonathan Cote.

What is Adopt A Street Tree about?

The city launched the Adopt a Street Tree program in 2020 to encourage residents and businesses to steward a newly planted street or boulevard tree. This year’s program got underway on April 11.

“This helps our new street trees thrive so we can all enjoy and connect with the numerous long-term benefits that a lush urban canopy provides,” said the report.

Residents and businesses in the community where new street trees have been planted are invited to consider becoming tree stewards. It involves filling a green watering bag once or twice a week from June to September and removing weeds from the woodchip mulch ring at the base of the tree once a month from June through September (as it helps conserve water for tree roots rather than weeds).

To participate, the city’s website includes a map showing the locations of newly planted trees. After completing an online application form, the city will get in touch with you and assign you a tree to care for.

You can get details at (search for Adopt a Street Tree) or email [email protected] with any questions.

Why plant trees?

Through its urban forest management strategy, the City of New Westminster has a goal of increasing the city’s urban forest canopy cover to 27% by 2030. The city has adopted a plan to plant more than 600 new street trees annually to help it reach that goal.

What’s this about adopting catch basins?

The Adopt a Catch Basin program is a new initiative aimed at encouraging residents and businesses to share in the responsibility for cleaning a storm water catch basin.

“Leaves, debris, litter and even snow can block catch basins preventing rainwater from draining,” said a notice about the program. “The city's catch basins serve an important role in removing excess water from our streets each time it rains. Keeping these drains clear and running at optimal capacity throughout the year is important and helps to prevent localized flooding.”

People who adopt a catch basin will regularly clear debris and litter from “their” catch basin and the surrounding area using a broom, shovel or rake and they’ll go online to report the last cleaning date. Catch basins should be cleaned after a heavy rainfall, in the fall when trees lose their leaves, in the winter after significant snowfall, and in the spring when debris from the streets may build up.

What’s the Earth Day Datathon?

During the Datathon, taking place on April 23 and 24, volunteers will work virtually using open data from a number of sources, including city data.

“The Earth Day Datathon will create an opportunity for volunteers to analyze utility and property data with a goal of increasing the understanding of local building energy efficiency and predicting building energy consumption,” said a notice about the event. “The goal is for the findings to provide important insights to the city, businesses and building owners and to assist each in making informed decisions regarding building retrofit priorities towards achieving the city’s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”

The City of New Westminster is offering the Earth Day Datathon in partnership with Data for Good, a non-profit organization, and Landcor Data Corporation, a local business.

What has the city done on the environmental front?

In 2019, New Westminster city council declared a climate emergency and committed to taking bold action to achieve the greenhouse gas reductions required to keep global temperature increases below 1.5°C.

Council also approved the Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action which are striving to move New Westminster towards a zero carbon future by 2050. The steps include: carbon-free corporation; car-light community; carbon-free homes and buildings; pollution-free vehicles; carbon-free energy; and quality people-centred public realm.

Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus

Email [email protected]