On Saturday May 28th, the dreadful, rainy weather held off as the local community in Waterloo came together to plant hundreds of trees at Waterloo Park. All sorts of community members, including families, work groups, and our very own EngSoc, came together to plant about 600 trees in the area of the park near Westmount Road and Father David Bauer Drive. In about an hour and a half, all of the trees were in the ground and will remain there for years to come.
The Community Planting initiative started when the City of Waterloo bid for a grant from the TD Green Streets program to help fund grassroots projects to preserve and protect the environment. The application was successful and the City matched the $15,000 awarded by TD Friends of the Environment and Tree Canada for a total of $30,000 for the project. After five months of planning, event coordinator Peggy Stevens was very pleased with how smoothly the event ran. A variety of native tree species like the sugar maple and blue spruce were planted. They were mostly saplings with a few larger trees a couple of feet high. Although species grow at different rates, it will take about 50-60 years on average for them to grow to mature size.
While planting trees as a community was one focus of the Waterloo Community Planting Event, the other was education at the Urban Forestry tent city. There were stations set up to educate people about the native plant species in the Waterloo Region, promote local park and conservation areas, and for kids to indulge in arts and crafts. Local plant-related organizations including LEAF, RARE Charitable Research, Laurel Creek Citizens’ Working Group, City of Waterloo Forestry, and the Grand River Conservation Authority were present at this event. Other groups there to educate the tree-planting participants on local animal species were the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, WILD Ontario, Williams and Associates, and the K-W Procession of the Species. Passport stamps at all of the stations made learning more fun, since completed passports could be entered into a prize draw.
The exact location of the tree planting in Waterloo Park may have been tucked away from the main park, but the area was selected with environmental conservation in mind. The spot is right near the Laurel Creek, so having more trees in the area will reduce the need for mowing, which can be destructive to an ecosystem, not to mention expensive. Once the trees have matured, they will act as a wind and noise barrier for the Park, protecting it from the bustle of Westmount Road and the residential complex on the other side of the fence. Planting trees also establishes a solid root network beneath the ground to promote good water drainage and protect against soil erosion.
All in all, it was a great chance to experience the Waterloo community beyond just the university and a reminder that we’re surrounded by amazing park space to take advantage of this summer! Congratulations to the City of Waterloo on this successful event, and a special nod to everyone who showed up to represent Waterloo engineers!