Main Street’s Trees – Loss and Renewal

The large ash tree in front of Noella and Hector Hinchcliffe’s Main Street residence will be removed. It had already been killed by the emerald ash borer. Photo by John Dance

The removal and replanting of trees as part of Main Street’s renewal will profoundly alter the look of Old Ottawa East.

It will be painful to witness the removal of large trees as the site is prepared for the total rebuilding of the roadway and underground services. And yet, with the completion of the work in 2017, Main will have many more trees than it does at present.

Residents will be encouraged to work with the city to nourish them. This should create a lovely, shaded corridor, said Maratha Lush, landscape architect for the project.

“In preparation for the road work, 82 trees will be removed. Over 80 percent of them are in poor and declining health,” says Josée Vallée, the city’s project manager for Main Street renewal. “This includes primarily ash, elm, Japanese tree lilac and Manitoba Maple.”

About a third of the removals will be ash trees that have died or will do so within the next year or two, as a result of emerald ash borer infestation.

“More than 200 street trees, including a range of oak, maple, hackberry, honey locust, elm, Japanese tree lilac, and serviceberry, will be replanted along Main Street. The intent is to have as diverse of a range of species possible that will adapt to the urban street environment,” Vallée said.

A busy street environment is particularly harsh for trees. Many along the central portion of the renewed Main Street will have a special soil preparation that allows penetration of water and prevents compaction that kills roots.

Main Street residents are encouraged to adopt additional trees for their front yards, said Ian McRae, Sustainable Living Ottawa East’s tree advocate. The city’s tree program pays for these substantial trees.

For their first year the city will care for the adopted trees.In subsequent years, residents are responsible for watering them.

Another aspect of the Main landscaping plan is the creation of two small perennial gardens on both sides of Riverdale Avenue where it intersects Main. The existing ramps on and off Main are being eliminated so that two new parkettes will be formed.

SLOE is seeking volunteer gardeners to maintain these two gardens at this gateway to Old Ottawa East.

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