Residents plant trees in Morley-Walters Park
Around 70 Aylmer residents gathered at Morley-Walters Park on May 31, with a mission to repopulate the area with different types of trees. Planting almost 80 trees in two hours and cleaning up all sorts of rubbish in the process, the initiative was a huge success, according to one of its organizers Natty Urquizo. “It was a wonderful experience,” Urquizo said.
Despite COVID-19 safety regulations still limiting the density of public gatherings, and extremely hot weather, the initiative drew people from all walks of life, from benevolent teenagers to retired residents. Geographer and former National Capital Commission (NCC) land manager Mario Fournier, who was present for the initiative, donated all 78 seedlings, which included three NCC-approved native tree species – Bur Oak, Swamp White Oak and Bitternut Hickory.
Undertaken by Urquizo and Marc-André Dubuc, the initiative was a response to the devastation of the region’s trees caused by the Emerald Ash Borer infestation and climate change. Recalling the park’s trees being so severely devastated last fall, Urquizo said she and Dubuc sent a letter to Deschênes Councillor Mike Duggan about the possibility of re-planting trees in the area.
With millions in municipal funds spent on the cutting of dead or dying trees across the territory, Duggan said he could maybe help them out, but that funding was low. “Usually when we cut a tree down, we have to replace it,” Duggan said. “But there wasn’t any money left for replacement trees. It was an unforeseen budget item, this whole Emerald Ash Borer.” Duggan said he approached the municipal administration about the possibility of using his discretionary funds to pay for the project, but they denied his request.
Since the city couldn’t provide the funding for the initiative, Duggan looked at the site and deemed it a suitable location for a small reforestation project. With so many people coming out to help, Urquizo felt extremely thankful for the community’s contribution to the project.
As an environmentalist, Urquizo said she’s a strong promoter of action against climate change and that she couldn’t stand by as her neighbourhood park was being neglected and used as a waste disposal site.n“My purpose is to encourage the rest of the community to participate and do the same because we have millions of trees and we need to replace them … to cool down the temperature of the environment,” Urquizo said. She added that the city needs to install a sign notifying residents that pollution is illegal. “There are quite a number of people who think it’s a garbage dump, who can just come and dump whatever they want.”
Duggan expressed that he would love to undertake a larger-scale tree planting project this fall, noting that he welcomes residents to form a residents’ association so that he could fund the project directly. While he believes there needs to be some sort of regulation to prevent the introduction of invasive species to the region, Duggan said citizens should have a lot more freedom to plant trees in wooded areas.