The city’s urban forest is set to become less dense, as per a motion made by Coun. Lee Atkinson and passed by council.
© Herald file photo
Coun. Lee Atkinson successfully motioned during Monday’s city council meeting that city staff no longer automatically plant new trees where trees are cut down.
Until Monday, city staff had a policy that with every tree they cut down, a new tree be planted in its place.
No more, council decided.
Tacked onto the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Atkinson made the following motion;
“Where our crews are cutting out trees -- especially in older areas of the city -- that the policy of the department, which is not a policy of this council, be revoked and that where we take trees down we leave them, unless requested by the individual to have the tree replaced.”
“The time it takes that crew to plant that tree, I think the priority is to get through that urban forest,” Coun. Ted Zurakowski later said in backing the motion.
The motion was made without prior public notice -- a move that required two-thirds council support, which Atkinson received.
The only hand that rose in opposition to Atkinson’s motion was that of Coun. Rick Orr.
Within this year’s budget, council approved a $189,000 expenditure to increase the city’s urban forestry staff by two in order to deal with the city’s aging canopy of trees.
Staff has been busy, community services director Greg Zeeben said, adding that the list of trouble tree locations identified by residents is growing.
A report on the city’s tree-trimming and cutting efforts will be provided by administration at a city council meeting in the near future.
The following items were also decided during Monday’s city council meeting -- a marathon three-hour discussion of city issues.
• Traffic calming was approved for Olive Diefenbaker Drive on a temporary basis, consisting of five curb bulges, wherein the curb narrows the street in an effort to slow traffic.
Council will evaluate its success before deciding whether to replace the rubber curb bulges with more permanent concrete ones.
Although approved by council, discussion on the traffic-calming effort on Olive Diefenbaker Drive was mixed.
“One of the best traffic calming devices I saw was an RCMP cruiser with its light on and somebody pulled over,” Coun. Martin Ring said.
“I would like to see increased traffic enforcement in the known areas that we have issues.”
This wouldn’t be the best approach, Mayor Greg Dionne countered, noting that traffic-calming efforts without a salary are less expensive and can also be effective.
“We’re trying to control the costs of policing,” Dionne said. “I’d like to see us reduce the cost of policing.”
Directing his comments to administration, Coun. Lee Atkinson said that it was interesting to find a comprehensive report and proposal for Olive Diefenbaker Drive traffic calming -- an initiative city council did not specifically request -- while his request for traffic calming on 10th Street West remains unanswered.
“I expect to see something in the next little while, otherwise I’ll be bringing it up again, only considerably more annoyed.”
• Additional billboards might be in the works for Prince Albert, with tender documents and necessary licensing agreements now being looked at by administration.
Council gave administration the go-ahead to investigate allowing billboards at four locations -- pared down from the seven proposed during the previous week’s executive committee meeting.
The four locations proposed include near the airport, tourist centre, the 1200 to 1500 blocks of 15th Street East and the 2700 block of 10th Avenue West.
• A Kingdom Hall Jehovah’s Witness worship centre was approved by council, to be located at 4350 Second Ave. W.
The building will be large enough to seat 187 people.
• A six-plex townhouse unit at 3096 5A Ave. E. was approved by council, pending all applicable building, fire and health inspections and permits.
The development, proposed by River Bank Development Corp., consists of six single-bedroom units at 560 square feet each.
• Isolated empty lots throughout the city’s west flat area will be sold to the Canadian Revival Centre, at 50 per cent below their current list price, as has been granted in the past to other non-profit organizations.
In total, the city is receiving about $70,000 for the lots -- a win-win situation, Coun. Mark Tweidt said.
“They’re sitting there anyway, not collecting … any taxes or anything,” he told council, adding that the purchaser has “a good track record.”
A city administration report by property co-ordinator Leanne Fyrk notes that to date, “no other offers have come forward and the lands have been vacant for a number of years.”
• Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store facility in Prince Albert will receive a tax refund of $14,627, representing 2012 taxes, as well as a tax abatement of $21,198 covering 2013 taxes, council decided.
The property, at 911 Marquis Road, sells used and donated construction and home renovation material, which raises money for various Habitat for Humanity efforts in the city.