Cutbacks include axing tree program

It happens. A new crew of people in charge and new ideas about the environment led to the axing of a program that aimed to plant 50 million trees across Ontario by 2025.

The ambitious goal was cut short part way into its plan after the Doug Ford Conservative government came to power. There is some irony that current speaker Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott was the driving force of the initial proposal and managed to achieve all party support under the former Liberal government.

His inspiration at the time was a homegrown project in Wellington County known as the Green Legacy. For those unfamiliar with the story, former Puslinch Mayor Brad Whitcombe and county CAO Scott Wilson proposed the County of Wellington celebrate its 150th anniversary by planting 150,000 trees in 2004.

From there the project gained critical mass and acceptance, since then planting over 2.5 million trees across Wellington. Stock is propagated at county-owned facilities by a crew of workers and made available to residents and groups compelled to do something meaningful for the environment.

Benefits of healthy trees include capturing carbon, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere and stabilizing landscapes that suffer from erosion. There are other benefits, too.

Every April, around Earth Day, landowners and citizens alike are invited to pick up their tree order, often in conjunction with a township function. The hosts get a chance to meet residents and neighbours get an opportunity to chat, obviously with similar intentions and interests.

It remains the good fortune of residents here that councillors and municipal administrators tend to look at the long run when making choices, particularly when it comes to programs some may deem optional. Harnessing volunteers and stakeholders to improve their property or green spaces for future generations is a noble endeavour, promoting healthy community ideals like working together for a common cause.

The Green Legacy is alive and well and the county remains better for it.