Quebec’s Urban Forestry Update: A Year in Review

Meagan Hanna

Meagan Hanna, MA. ISA Board Certified Master Arborist – Quebec Representative, CUFN National Steering Committee Meagan Hanna, M. A., maître-arboriste agréée par l’ISA – Représentante du Québec, Comité directeur national du RCFU

Meagan Hanna, MA. ISA Board Certified Master Arborist – Quebec Representative, CUFN Steering Committee

Quebec urban foresters and friends of the urban forest continue their work in preserving and enhancing city trees throughout the province. As time goes on, new resources slowly become available. Nevertheless, the region grapples with its share of challenges and rapid changes to the landscape.

Municipalities learning as emerald ash borer continues to proliferate

As many already know, the CFIA updated its Emerald Ash Borer Regulated areas across the country at the end of 2017. In addition to EAB being positively detected for the first time in cities such as Winnipeg, Manitoba and Thunder Bay, Ontario, 9 of Quebec’s 10 most populated cities now contend with EAB in their urban forests. Quebec’s capital is one of many municipalities that detected this exotic and highly destructive insect in 2017. Thankfully, la Ville de Québec has been implementing pre-emptive action planning and strategies to respond to the emerging infestation.

All eyes are looking east in attempt to find hope in regions where extra time has given cities and organizations an opportunity to prepare and learn from the successes and challenges of other regions. Consequently, our counterparts in Atlantic Canada have been working diligently to equip urban foresters in the region by organizing educational events like the Atlantic Urban Forest Conference that was held in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in November 2017. Over 125 participants took part in this two day conference focusing on promoting and maintaining healthy urban forests. As part of the panel discussions on vectors for change and pressures on the urban forest, a representative from Quebec offered his insight and shared his experiences managing the EAB infestation in Montreal, Quebec. Anthony Daniel, Coordinator (Conseiller en planification) for Montreal’s EAB Management strategy presented the Ville de Montréal’s strategies and gave attendees an inside look at what to expect as EAB moves eastward. Communication across provinces is definitely worth encouraging, seeing as we have so much to learn from one another. The International Urban Forestry Congress 2018 will be another occasion to learn from urban forestry professionals and researchers from across the country.

A year of historic weather events

In addition to EAB’s advancement along the Windsor-Quebec corridor, urban forests in Southern-Quebec faced a series of extreme weather events. In May 2017, a 6 day state of emergency was declared in Montreal in the midst of a series of unprecedented flooding on and around the island. A total of 22 municipalities declared a state of emergency as the spring thaw caused unparalleled devastation to property and threats to public security around the province. Over 290 municipalities across 15 of Quebec’s 17 administrative regions were affected by severe flooding, causing the mobilization of Canada’s Armed Forces and Red Cross. The provincial government released a Statement of Accounts at the end of the year which analyzed elements such as preparedness, response and restoration following the event. As levels of government and institutions make sense of the series of events in 2017, the province’s ministère de la Sécurité publique released its Action Plan in early March 2018. Although the long term impact of these floods on our ecosystems and urban forests is not fully understood, the provincial government recognizes the impact of climate change and the role that all levels of governments have in mitigating these impacts in a shift towards a more resilient society. Groups like the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal also recognize how greenspaces and vegetation contribute to regulating the hydrological cycle of watercourses.

On August 22, 2017 a series of violent storms ranging from a tornado in Lachute to a microburst in Montreal induced winds of up to 120 km/hr in urban areas. In Montreal’s borough of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, the impact of this storm was especially calamitous as approximately 400 mature trees were damaged in an area not much larger than 2 km2. Between one quarter and one third of the mature trees in NDG Park were either destroyed or rendered extremely fragile in a matter of minutes, as the microburst quickly cut a path of destruction through the neighbourhood. Over 50 crew members from boroughs across the City of Montreal mobilized to come to the aid of this community. Since the initial response and cleanup effort, citizens and local groups have mobilized to co-create with the borough as the community moves forward with replanting and restoration in 2018. These events demonstrate that no urban forest is immune to the effects of extreme weather events. Preparedness, on the other hand, can help establish priorities and allocate the resources necessary to respond safely and efficiently in the face of crisis.

Municipalities stepping up their game in professional development

As of March 2018, la Ville de Laval joins la Ville de Québec as one of the first municipalities in Quebec to encourage and support its entire urban forestry team to become ISA Certified Arborists. Both Laval and Quebec now employ teams of 10 urban forestry technicians who possess ISA’s Certified Arborist credential. Congratulations to these municipalities for supporting the professional development of their staff and congratulations to the individuals who worked towards attaining this internationally recognized credential. Currently, there are just under 32,000 ISA Certified Arborists worldwide, including 2,612 credential holders in Canada.

New industry standards for arboriculture and horticulture in Quebec for 2019

Quebec’s arboriculture, horticulture and landscape industries have embarked on a multisector collaboration to update the BNQ 0605 series of French-language standards pertaining to Landscaping with Plants (BNQ 0605-100 Aménagement à l’aide de végétaux), Arboricultural and Horticultural Maintenance (BNQ 0605-200 Entretien arboricole et horticole) and Nursery Stock (BNQ 0605-300 Produits de pépinière et gazon).

This project overhauls the entire suite of landscape standards recognized in Quebec and it is the first revision in 16 years. Three standards committees of 15 industry representatives are rewriting the standards as we speak, in collaboration with the Bureau de normalisation du Québec. This project was made possible, in part, by a provincial grant: le Programme de développement sectoriel (PDS) du ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ). Should you have any questions about the process, 60 day public consultations will be held on each of the standards in summer 2018. In the meantime, your CUFN Quebec Representative will be working actively on this process as industry representative on all three standards committees.

Should you have an exciting urban forestry challenge or success in your community, feel free to reach out and tell me about it.

2018 is shaping up to be a momentous year as urban forestry grows in significance and scope throughout the province, one tree, and of course, one engaged individual at a time!

Wishing you all the best in your endeavours this year.

Your CUFN Steering Committee Quebec Representative,

Meagan Hanna


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