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Banff looking for green space in budget

Trees that have died or are dying along Banff’s famed tourist strip could end up being replaced.

Trees that have died or are dying along Banff’s famed tourist strip could end up being replaced.

It’s a tough economy and a tight budget year, but town staff are preparing a report for council to consider replacing most of the dead trees on Banff Avenue that were planted as part of Banff Refreshing construction work.

In 2009, 81 trees were killed due to weather conditions, but also because of chemical de-icers and salt, people walking on the beds, vandalism, irrigation problems and poor soil.

“The tree planting scheme was part of the Banff Refreshing vision and it was a crucial part of the entire plan itself,” said Randall McKay, Banff’s planning and development manager.

“We wanted to further bring Banff’s natural surroundings into the downtown setting, bring nature into the built environment.”

Town officials say trees and landscaping are important to the overall ambience and visitor experience and have been incorporated as a vital element of the overall streetscape.

McKay said tree groupings have been designed to create spatial definition, provide shade in summer and soften the building edge.

“At corner locations and mid-block crossings, evergreen trees have been used as visual markers. They also provide year-round colour that brings the natural surroundings into the downtown setting,” he said.

“Flower displays in median planter boxes also help to animate and brighten the street in the summer season.”

If town council wishes to replace the dead trees, staff would recommend a maximum of 70 to accommodate sight lines, soil conditions and spacing.

There are other proposed measures as well, including shrubs and low plantings around the beds to deter people from cutting through or standing on the beds.

Property owners would also be reminded not to use chemical de-icers to clear the sidewalks in winter, or use the planter beds as a snow dump.

In Alberta, urban tree and shrub mortality rates spiked last year due to a combination of weather events between September 2009 and 2010.

That’s according to a report from the Landscape Alberta Nursery Trades Association, which says there are many factors that influence when a tree enters dormancy and one of them is temperature.

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