The ice storm that left thousands of Waterloo Region residents without power last week highlights the need for a long-term plan for tree maintenance, says the city's director of operations.

Jim Witmer asked council on Dec. 12 to invest $250,000 toward a structural pruning program that could reduce the damage severe storms cause. 

"It's a way of trying to get ahead of the game early in the development of the tree which will save us money not only in maintenance cost later on but also could resist some of the damage that has occurred as a result of these types of storms," said Witmer during an interview on The Morning Edition

Witmer said the cost would cover two full-time and one part-time staff who would regularly trim weak limbs from trees around the city, as well as a chipper. 

"That will help a variety of different things. One is to give us additional resources to help us in situations like this but also it provides those resources to address the physical conditions of the trees when they're younger to eliminate the hazards," Witmer said. 

A final decision on whether to fund the program will be made by Kitchener council on Jan. 30.

Costs of cleanup still unknown

Crews are continuing to work across the city to remove fallen limbs from roadways and boulevards following last week's ice storm. Witmer says the majority of the ice has melted off, but there is still much to be done. 

"We have an awful lot of work to deal with to address the downed limbs," said Witmer. 

He did not know yet how much the cleanup efforts would cost.

Local residents are asked to help where they can; for instance by collecting up fallen limbs and branches and transporting them to the Region of Waterloo landfill sites. 

Witmer is asking people who have damaged trees on their property to contact the city of Kitchener's call centre at 519-741-2345.