Putting Trees on the Streets of Crown Point

Some Hamilton neighbourhoods with especially poor tree coverage have some of the worst air quality in Canada. In response, OPIRG McMaster supported a student to start the Street Tree project last year.

By Krista Kruja
Published June 02, 2014

this article has been updated

The OPIRG McMaster Street Tree Project has taken off again this year in Crown Point after a successful summer of 2013 in the Keith neighbourhood, and this year they have teamed up with Environment Hamilton!

If you're not familiar with this project here's a bit of a background:

In 2004, in an effort to increase the urban tree canopy, the City of Hamilton started the Free Street Tree Planting program. Through the program, home owners can request a tree in their front yard and the city will plant and maintain it free of charge.

It has now been ten years since the program began. While it is going great in some parts of the City of Hamilton, unfortunately many people in other areas that need trees the most aren't aware of the program's availability or potential positive impacts on air quality, noise, property values, or overall health.

Street tree canopy in Kirkendall (RTH file photo)
Street tree canopy in Kirkendall (RTH file photo)

A survey of air quality in Hamiltonian neighbourhoods showed that some of the areas with especially poor tree coverage had some of the worst air quality in Canada. In response to this, OPIRG McMaster supported a student to start the Street Tree project last year.

The innovative project was piloted in the Keith neighbourhood, which consists of about 1,800 homes. A door-to-door campaign was organized to ask residents if they wanted a free tree. As a result, 73 trees were scheduled to be planted in a neighbourhood that had previously averaged only three tree requests a year.

This year, the focus was on areas within the Crown Point neighbourhood in Ward 4, starting specifically in the McAnulty Boulevard area.

McAnulty Boulevard
McAnulty Boulevard

The McAnulty neighbourhood had been listed as the fifth worst neighbourhood in Hamilton for air quality. It has a mortality rate of six percent higher than the average, and PM10 levels twice average levels. With the steel industry so close by, it doesn't come as much of a surprise!

However, the Street Tree Project is trying hard to improve this. We are going canvassing door-to-door in the McAnulty area trying to collect more tree requests, as well as distributing a survey to try to determine what other services might be lacking that might help the community increase greenery and improve air quality.

The goal is to use these results in the future to advocate for new services which might be of use. For example, requests for shrubs have been a popular ask, and fear of problems with piping have been a common concern preventing people from requesting trees.

Knowing this, we might be able to push for improved water pipes and maintenance, or at least free shrubs to accompany free trees.

So far, the project has not only served to increase tree requests but also to bridge communities in Hamilton. We have had volunteers to come canvassing from McAnulty, McMaster, Environment Hamilton and Crown Point, as well as the larger Hamilton community.

Street Tree volunteers
Street Tree volunteers

We are also hoping to advertise the service and meet even more people by attending an event for the opening of the new Bayview Park in Crown Point.

It has been an exciting process building new relationships with Hamilton community members to improve air quality and increase the urban forest. There's something really wonderful about bringing together people who might not have ever met one another to work toward something that benefits everyone.

If you are interested in learning more about the project, getting a free tree, or volunteering with us, check out our blog and follow Hamilton StreetTrees on Twitter @TREEs4sTREEts.

Update: this article originally mentioned an event at Bayfield Park. The event is actually at Bayview Park. RTH regrets the error. You can jump to the changed paragraph.

Krista Kruja studies at McMaster and since moving to Hamilton has been falling ever-more-deeply in love with the city. This summer she is working through OPIRG McMaster as a coordinator for the Hamilton Street Tree Project. Follow @TREEs4sTREEts on Twitter for more info.


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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted June 02, 2014 at 21:31:43

This is a great program - we used it to plant a tulip tree back in 2006 ish - which is now the biggest tree on our street.

Just beware that with the City of Hamilton, nothing is ever simple. When we wanted to renovate and add on to our 70 year old house, the City told that we did not have enough parking spots to approve the building permit (in a neighbourhood where many of the houses don't have driveways).

So we applied for boulevard parking - ie. permission to park on the city portion of your own driveway (theoretically - since we don't actually need more parking) - but were denied because........we had an existing tree on city property in our front yard....

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By Yikes (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 05:59:48 in reply to Comment 101941

My wife and I are debating between moving into Crown Point or somewhere on the mountain. What you've described is an instance of why we're wary of moving into Crown Point. That, and whenever we go to see homes in the lower city, we see lots of shirtless, overweight older men sitting on their porches watching us. When we're on the mountain, we don't get that feeling. Had a great conversation today with an associate who works in the core as a superintendent but lives on the mountain. He said that even though the city is blue collar in pockets everywhere, the mountain is just a different take on city living. I think that's pretty apt.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 20:05:28 in reply to Comment 101950

Simple. Choose the mountain, get a Petro Points card and never visit Raise the Hammer again.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 07, 2014 at 08:10:24 in reply to Comment 102049

Wow, that's constructive. "Since you disagree, I never want to hear it". That's a good attitude.

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By porch dweller (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 21:09:09 in reply to Comment 101950

People sitting on porches is a good thing. Being overweight is unfortunate, and is likely correlated with being poor. People driving 50 kph into their garages via automatic door openers and hibernating with their big screen televisions is no way to live either.

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By Malex (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 09:14:20 in reply to Comment 101950

I wouldn't describe living on the mountain as "city living" - it's suburban living. We moved from Toronto to the lower city because we wanted an urban environment and all that it entails. So far, gotta say, we're loving it (AND we used the city's free tree program to get a new tree last year)

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By Confused (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 05:42:33 in reply to Comment 101964

You're confusing "urban living" and "city living". 2 totally different things.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 16:29:13 in reply to Comment 101964

I think it depends where you are. The Concession St. area has a strong grid, growing commercial strip, well served by transit to access downtown/GO Centre, easy to walk/cycle in, and has good access to green space and trails.

It's important to remember that Concession was just the concession continuation of Aberdeen and part date from the same period. I think it's a common mistake on this site to paint the Mountain with a single brush (and vice versa with the Lower City).

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By kristakruja (registered) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 08:22:36 in reply to Comment 101950

I haven't spent too much time on the mountain, but as far as the Crown Point area goes, from what I've seen I think it would be a wonderful place to live! There are some really great smaller communities within Crown Point, and lots of ways to get involved with the Crown Point community as a whole as well. And also lots to do, lots of parks and trails and community events (check out the Pipeline Trail!).

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted June 02, 2014 at 23:11:32

"A survey of air quality in Hamiltonian neighbourhoods showed that some of the areas with especially poor tree coverage had some of the worst air quality in Canada."

Over 40,000 trees were cut down to clear the way for the RHVP, and 220,000 new trees were to have been planted, which beggars belief. I220,000 trees over 7km would amount to 15 trees each side per meter of roadway.


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By Noter (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 05:57:32 in reply to Comment 101943

You do realize this include saplings, multiple trees planted side by side, because some will die, and some won't?

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 08:37:27 in reply to Comment 101949

Absolutely. And while the City committed to replacing trees at a ratio of 15:1, trees do grow slowly. After seven years, they might not have made much headway.

Even so, "Air quality has improved significantly in the vicinity of the Red Hill Valley Parkway."


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By jason (registered) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 08:39:02

It can't be overstated how important this initiative is through many old Hamilton neighbourhoods. The city's tree canopy stands at around 15-17%. Most cities aim for 35%. Combined with our excessive major roadways (more km per resident than any other Southern Ontario city) and heavy industry, we should be aiming for at LEAST 35% if not 40% (which is where Portland, Oregon is currently aiming). We have km after km of roadway through the lower city with virtually no trees. The effects on health, traffic safety, quality of life, property values, air quality, heat island are all quite remarkable when you see the research in these areas.

Whenever I'm in downtown TO residential neighbourhoods or the Elmwood Ave district in Buffalo I'm in awe of the amazing canopies. We have very few streets with such greenery in Hamilton. Just this year alone I've seen a handful of healthy trees cut down in my neighbourhood to make way for parking pads that won't hold anything but a Smart Car without impeding the sidewalk.

Here is a staggering map we re-published last year. Check out the difference between Hamilton and Toronto. The biggest city in the country full of towers and traffic doesn't come close to the heat island effect in Hamilton:


More here: https://www.raisethehammer.org/article/1...

And here: https://www.raisethehammer.org/article/2...

The city should be planting trees on every main street without any, and fast.

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By think native (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 17:47:13

Some of the free trees offered are invasive exotic species. Native species can and will grow successfully if they are given proper growing conditions in urban areas (i.e. are not enclosed in concrete around the truck and have a permeable surface under its drip line to allow infiltration).

If you participate ask for a native tree species to Hamilton! And also ask for the invasive trees to be taken off the list. We need to protect our natural heritage.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 19:13:39



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