Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener preventative tree maintenance program gets pruned

Kitchener city councillors voted to trim a proposed street tree maintenance program from the city's 2014 budget on Thursday night in order to hold the line on a 0.99 per cent property tax hike for the average homeowner.

Kitchener city councillors voted to trim a proposed street tree maintenance program from the city's 2014 budget on Thursday night in order to hold the line on a 0.99 per cent property tax hike. 

Finance Committee Chair Scott Davey said the proposed program would have cost $169,500. 

"That was one of the items many of us would have liked to have seen get into the budget," he said. "But it's something that was referred to in next year's budget because we wanted to make sure we stayed as close as possible to inflation this year."

The proposed tree maintenance program was meant to address some of the damage to Kitchener's urban canopy in 2013. It was defeated by a vote of 6 to 5. 

Two fierce windstorms swept through the city on July 20 and July 28, doing extensive damage to the city's greenery, followed by an ice storm in April and another one in December.

The city says the ice storm has cost $290,000 in cleaning efforts so far, with another $200,000 expected over the next several months. 

Kitchener's director of operations, Jim Witmer, originally  asked council on Dec. 12 to invest $250,000 toward a structural pruning program that could reduce the damage severe storms cause. 

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

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