Can you see Courtenay’s forest for the trees? Would you like to?

The City of Courtenay is inviting the public to provide input on the vision, goals and future of Courtenay’s urban forest. Attend a public workshop on Monday, June 25 from 7:00 to 9:00 pmor Tuesday, June 26 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm at the Native Sons Hall, lower level, at 360 Cliffe Avenue in downtown Courtenay. Both workshops will cover the same materials. Pre-registration is not required.

An online survey will also be available following the workshops at www.courtenay.ca/urbanforest

The goals of the Urban Forest Strategy are to establish baseline information about Courtenay’s urban forest, develop a community-informed vision, and identify strategies and actions to achieve the vision.

An Urban Forest Strategy is a planning tool that identifies opportunities and challenges for trees and forest stands on public and private land. The City’s strategy is expected to set a canopy cover target for the community as a whole, and for specific areas and land uses. The canopy cover target will inform which areas should be a priority for tree protection, and in which areas replanting would be beneficial. Communities around the province are adopting urban forest strategies to address environmental protection, stormwater management, climate change, habitat protection, and liveability. Courtenay City Council directed staff to develop an Urban Forest Strategy after the adoption of a new Tree Bylaw last spring.

“The Tree Bylaw consultation results indicated that the public is interested in exploring appropriate management and stewardship goals for our collective urban forest beyond a regulatory approach,” said Nancy Gothard, Policy Planner with the City of Courtenay. “The upcoming consultation events and interactive survey will allow a fuller conversation on the future of these green assets to continue.”

“The City’s new Tree Bylaw has been operational for one year, and it’s a good time to review the process and ensure it’s working effectively for the public,” continued Gothard. “The Urban Forest Strategy will also be an opportunity to provide residents with a better understanding of how the bylaw impacts the future of our community.”

The online survey will be open throughout the summer. The survey will include a “story-map” so respondents can submit comments and photos in relation to specific locations.

“We’re really excited to see what photos and stories people have to share about their special trees in the community,” noted Gothard. “We believe the interactive story-map will allow for a real richness of information to be shared.”

The City has engaged the services of Diamond Head Consulting, a firm specializing in this type of work. Results of aerial photo analysis and data collection of Courtenay’s urban forest will be shared at the workshops.

The draft strategy is expected to be available for public review in the fall. More information on the Urban Forest Strategy planning process is available at www.courtenay.ca/urbanforest

Nancy Gothard

Policy Planner, City of Courtenay