Payroll firm plants $250K in seed money for Winnipeg trees

Winnipeg has received more help toward its goal of planting one million trees over the next two decades.

Telpay heeds mayor's call for help in planting a million trees by 2040

October's heavy snowfall damaged thousands of trees in Winnipeg. The city is looking at planting a million trees over 20 years. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Winnipeg has received more help toward its goal of planting one million trees over the next two decades.

Electronic-payment company Telpay, whose payroll systems already allow businesses to use less paper than they did in the days of paper paycheques, announced Wednesday it's making a $250,000 donation toward Winnipeg's tree-planting efforts.

In September, Mayor Brian Bowman said the city will try to plant a million trees to mitigate the ongoing loss of ash trees to the emerald ash borer, elm trees to Dutch elm disease and other threats to Winnipeg's urban forest.

Weeks later, an early October snowstorm damaged tens of thousands of city trees. The city's tree-planting goal is over and above the work it faces to replace damaged trees, Bowman said Wednesday.

The city is not yet sure how many trees it can plant with the help of Telpay's gift.

Trees cost anywhere from $5 for a seedling to $750 for a mature tree, said David Domke, who manages parks and open spaces for Winnipeg. 

His division is trying to determine where it makes the most sense to plant new trees, both to replace natural vegetation and damaged or dying trees planted decades ago.

That includes replacing at least a part of the city's picturesque elm canopy, which is nearing the end of its natural life and is subject to disease.

"We do think we can do some American elms, as long as they're low in numbers. We've proven, through our Dutch elm disease program. that we can manage these trees and we can continue to plant those kind of trees," Domke said.

The city also plans to use the money to plant aspen, oaks, cottonwoods and saskatoons, along with shrubs such as dogwoods.

First, it also must ensure it has enough trees to plant.

"A million trees [over 20 years] ends up being 50,000 trees per year. We're not expecting that we're going to be able to come out of the gate planting 50,000 trees," he said.


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