Manitoba

City of Winnipeg considers opening more tree disposal sites to help with storm cleanup

The city may release more details later this week of a plan to deal with thousands of fallen and damaged trees in Winnipeg, including opening more depots to accept debris.

Councillors got a special briefing on storm damage Wednesday

The City of Winnipeg says it may open Christmas tree disposal sites to help dispose of debris from the autumn snowstorm that hit southern Manitoba late last week. (CBC)

The City of Winnipeg may use Christmas tree disposal sites to facilitate the massive cleanup after last week's storm.

The idea was raised at a special briefing for city councillors on Wednesday morning. The city is currently offering free dropoff for tree debris only at its two 4R recycling depots and at the Brady Road landfill.

Officials say there are at least 30,000 trees on city property alone that were damaged by the wet, heavy snow and winds from last Friday's storm. The estimate of the number of trees on private property was pegged by city staff at "tens of thousands."

Kevin Klein, the councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood, says he raised the possibility of using the Christmas tree disposal sites after the suggestion was made on social media.

City staff at the special council seminar acknowledged it was an option being considered.

"They said that they were looking at all kinds of possibilities but they wouldn't commit to one right now," Klein told CBC News. "They did say that they should have a better idea by Friday."

The city opens eight Christmas tree disposal sites during the holidays at community clubs, sports facilities and parks across Winnipeg.

"They are looking at some spaces," said Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie. "They aren't sure where it could be or anything like that at this point.… There could be a possibility that you have somewhere closer to go [to haul tree debris]."

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Mayor Brian Bowman told reporters it could be several months or into the spring before the cleanup is completed.

Coun. Kevin Klein says it makes sense to open Christmas tree disposal sites earlier to deal with the amount of debris from the storm. (Trevor Lyons/CBC )

Klein says time is rapidly becoming a factor as winter, freezing temperatures and more snow all loom in the near future.

"If we're saying it could take into the new year to deal with everything, that means there [will be] a lot of tree branches [and] debris under the snow," Klein said, in addition to debris like "small branches and leaves that are going into the sewer system right now that could clog [the system] up."

Councillors were also briefed Wednesday on efforts to clear away debris from major streets, as well as around schools and other priority locations.

The seminar also outlined Mayor Brian Bowman's request to the province for disaster financial assistance. 

The Progressive Conservative government hasn't said what it will do with the appeal for emergency funding.

Winnipeg's city council will vote on a formal call for assistance next week.

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