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Broadway Restoration Project

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Broadway 2003Trees Winnipeg launched its Broadway Avenue Tree Rehabilitation project in spring 2007 with support from the Sustainable Development Initiatives Fund, Great West Life, the Winnipeg Foundation, the City of Winnipeg and various private donors and supporters. This program is designed to preserve and protect the wondrous 75 year-old elms that line the city's signature business roadway.

A number of activities have been implemented to preserve, protect and enhance the urban forest along Broadway Ave. and adjacent streets. These activities include:

  • Vertical soil mulching to improve accessibility of oxygen and soil nutrients to tree roots.
  • Tree pruning to improve tree vigor and appearance and decrease susceptibility to disease and physical branch breakage due to wind damage.
  • Removal of diseased trees and trees with significant dieback and mortality.
  • Research by the University of Winnipeg, Centre for Forest Interdisciplinary Research, to determine the impact of road salt, toxic emissions from vehicle traffic, pedestrian traffic, insects and diseases and vandalism on the long term survival of existing mature trees and methods to increase the survival success of new tree plantings to replace trees removed due to disease or age considerations.
  • Banding of trees along Broadway and adjacent streets by the Coalition to decrease the impact of defoliating caterpillars (cankerworms) which can increase tree susceptibility to other insect and disease problems (e.g. Dutch elm disease in the case of American elm).
  • Increased root watering schedule and cleaning of particulate matter and residues from bark and leaves on a yearly basis to decrease foliage exposure to toxic residues from air pollution.
  • Purchase and installation of high quality, permanent tree guards for all new trees along Broadway to protect newly planted trees from pedestrian and vehicle damage.

HELP US BRING LIFE BACK TO BROADWAY

Trees Winnipeg, in co-operation with the City of Winnipeg forestry department, is undertaking a program of rehabilitation for the elms on Broadway. We will clean, prune, water, vertical mulch, fertilize, band, remove dead trees, replant those that have fallen and provide ongoing inspection and assessment. Over the next five years, we hope to rehabilitate many of the trees and literally bring new life Broadway Elms from the Royal Crown Towerback to Broadway.

Send your donations to our office or by credit card online.

How will the money be spent?

This is an ongoing program. The money will be used to remove lights, prune, remove, replant, fertilize, vertical mulch, band, inspect and water the trees. Proceeds will also be used to administer and accomplish the ongoing maintenance program. The city forestry branch is co-operating and working with us in every way they can. This project is designed to augment the work of the forestry branch which is stretched to its limit.

What will this do for my home neighbourhood?

It is our hope that the Broadway program will stimulate awareness of the importance of our urban forest among politicans, other decision makers and residents to make trees a priority.

The consequence of inaction is the ever increasing rate of irreversible decline and death of the Broadway elms and other trees resulting in the loss of the unique and historical character of one of Winnipeg’s grandest avenues and part of our heritage.

HISTORY OF THE ELMS OF BROADWAY

    • Broadway Avenue is Winnipeg’s signature business roadway due to its towering elm trees. This is where our seat of government exists, where we paraded the Queen, where we celebrated major events such as the end of the war.
    • The trees offer beauty and shade to the street, making Broadway one of Winnipeg’s loveliest tree-lined business streets, a place for people to gather and enjoy our wonderful summers.
    • Broadway is home to institutions such as Via Rail, the Hotel Fort Garry, the Manitoba Club and Great West Life as well our law courts and legislature. The trees make this street a desirable place to do business.
      The trees are an irreplaceable part of the city’s infrastructure. A road, sidewalk or bridge can be built in days or weeks. Trees the size of the Broadway elms take generations to grow.
    • These giant trees cannot be replaced. Trees of this stature are difficult to grow in modern cities due to pollution and lack of root space. Because of the hostile city environment, the current life expectancy of a newly planted urban tree is often no more than ten years.
    • These trees are under serious threat. Without some intervention they are doomed to disappear forever taking with them the unique character of Broadway and part of our heritage.

WHAT'S STRESSING THE BROADWAY ELMS?

“A city street does not provide the space,nutrients, or water that a tree needs in order to grow; it is an environment hostile to life.”
(Spirn 1984)

The threats and stresses affecting Broadway’s elms result from both man-made and natural challenges.

Pollution

In a natural environment trees have fresh air, clean soil and pure water to nourish them.

  • Trees in the urban environment have to contend with air pollution from automobiles that also pollute the soil and water the trees need to survive.
  • Saline street de-icing compounds pollute the soil, depriving roots of moisture.

“Today the quantity of petroleum residue washed off streets, highways, parking lots and industrial sites each year exceeds the total spillage from oil tankers and barges worldwide.” (Marsh 1998)

Growth Constraints

  • Hard, impermeable urban surfacing provides limited soil space for roots to grow.
  • Infrastructure underneath the sidewalks and pavement prevents the expansion of root systems.
  • Sewer and utility pipes not only represent additonal obstacles to growth, they are often the cause of root damage when they are installed and maintained.

Mistreatment

Urban trees are subjected to mistreatment from the citizens who live and work in the city.

  • Broadway Tree Guards - 2010 Trees are vandalized, posted with flyers, disfigured by people physically destroying parts of them.
  • Trees are damaged by lawn care equipment, salt spray and weed control herbicides among other things.
  • Trees are hit by motor vehicles and snow removal equipment.
  • Trees are strung with lights that damage weak limbs and twigs.

Nature creates its own stress.

In additon to all these man-made stresses, urban trees also face natural challenges.

Weather Elements

Streetscapes and above ground structures intensify oralter natural elements.

  • Temperature extremes are intensified.
  • Solar radiation/reflection is multiplied.

Water

Urban trees are subjected to both too much and too little water.

  • Paved surfaces increase runoff causing over watering in heavy rains and reducing available water in lighter rains.
  • Intensified winds increase the loss of precious water by evaporation.
  • Salts from de-icing compounds alter the soil water osmotic pressure so that moisture is actually sucked out of the tree roots.

Pests and Disease

Like all trees, but more so because of the other stresses on them, urban trees are susceptible to pests and diseases including:

  • Dutch elm disease
  • Defoliators such as cankerworms and tent caterpillars
  • Fungal leaf spot
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