Jaggs’ tree hugs beget kudos + encores

Gordon Jaggs. Tree Preservation Coordnator, Richmond, BCAre you engaged? Now’s the chance.

The engaging Gordon Jaggs is midway through his six-event Tree Protection tour. The ratings are solid.

Jaggs, who heads Richmond’s trio of Tree Protection Bylaw staff, uses slides of local trees and protective measures to illustrate his stories, with discussion welcome. That’s the first hour.

The second hour is “Q & A.” It includes questions about park and street trees—beyond the tree bylaw, which applies to private property. One can just listen, but most people have good questions.

The answers are also good, especially since Jaggs brings some informed colleagues with him, mainly parks staff, and they say what they think. Also, the public chime in. Sometimes Jaggs arranges to follow up.

People arrive and leave at any time, and no one minds. Some of the public even stay around to chat at the end, with staff obliging.

I gather that the discussion has varied quite a bit from one event to another. There’s so much to talk about in a get-together of residents and staff who mostly love trees.

There’s an event a month, always on a weekday evening at 6:00 p.m. at a community centre. So far it’s been Thompson, West Richmond and South Arm.

It’s Steveston’s turn next Wednesday, January 18, 2017. The final events are on Thursdays: Cambie on February 23 and Hamilton on March 23.

I’m happy about the events, but I’m not saying all’s well with Richmond tree protection. The stated purpose of the bylaw is to “protect Richmond’s urban forest,” and informed citizens don’t excuse the gap between that and reality.

At the South Arm event, several were outraged about the urban forest on the north side of Alderbridge (the “Walmart block”) that’s been wiped out. A staff member implied the better trees there were too scattered. I joined in to mention tree-moving equipment that could have resolved that.

Jaggs mused about encouraging the developers who save all the trees they can. I suggested ways to honour them, but he was hesitant. I suppose there’s not much support from higher-ups, since less-enlightened developers are dominant in Richmond.

After the West Richmond event, conservationist Michael Wolfe told “Save Richmond Trees” on Facebook that “Staff misuse the term ‘dying’ when claiming trees are suitable for removal” and “they ignore the ecosystem values of woody debris (e.g., for nesting habitat).”

More optimistically, he added, “Staff encouraged the crowd to speak at public hearings so Council can be made aware of public concern for trees.” If the crowd heeded, that’s a worthwhile outcome.

Sharon MacGougan, President, Garden City Conservation Society, Richmond, BC

If you take part in one of the events, there’s a good chance you’ll find the experience engaging—and worthwhile.

After the Thompson event, Sharon MacGougan, president of the Garden City Conservation Society, said, “This meeting style is a friendly way to communicate” and “Gordon Jaggs is good at what he does.”

To learn more, google “Richmond Tree Protection Bylaw.

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