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Preserving our precious elm trees
Sep 11, 2009

Since its inception in 1903, WinnipegREALTORS® has always been 

eager to play an active role in the development of Winnipeg and the surrounding municipalities. In striving toward this goal, it’s civic and legislative affairs committee discusses a number of issues while applying the five key principles that form the foundation of the quality of life philosophy. The quality of life program was first implemented in Manitoba by the Manitoba Real Estate Association after observing the program initiated by the Washington Association of REALTORS® and the British Columbia Real Estate Association. The quality of life philosophy has since spread across the nation after its adoption by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The five principles are: 

Ensuring economic vitality — Quality of life starts with a good job. The key to our quality of life is a strong economy. 

Providing housing opportunities —Quality of life means having a roof over your head. We all want a safe, decent and affordable home near where we work, shop, and play. We must increase the supply of housing including choices about design, cost and location. 

Preserving our environment — REALTORS® and Manitoba residents agree that we must preserve our environment. REALTORS® recognize that one of the most important elements of our quality of life is the environment — clean air and water, parks and open space. 

Building better communities — By building better communities, we create places where people want to live, work and play. Communities should have good schools, safe neighbourhoods, reliable public services and transportation, beautiful parks and open space. Better communities come when governments are our partners, sufficiently funding the roads, water and sewer projects that are the framework for a community’s quality of life. 

Protecting property owners — A strong economy depends on preserving the investment people have made in their homes — protecting the ability to freely own, use, buy and sell real property.

Under the preserving our environment quality of life principle, WinnipegREALTORS® includes the protection and preservation of Winnipeg’s rich endowment of elm trees.  A great deal of credit goes to Trees Winnipeg (formerly Coalition to Save the Elms) for all the effort they have made over the years to ensure the continued survival of our elms. On their website, they indicate “Winnipeg is renowned ... for its exceptional urban forest which is composed of the largest American elm population in North America.”

This exceptional canopy of trees  was extolled by WinnipegREALTORS® when it produced a 1992 video proclaiming Winnipeg as one great city. The video was used successfully by REALTORS®, the government and other organizations to promote the benefits offered to people and companies considering moving to Winnipeg.

As the narrator of the 15-minute video pointed out during the visual tour of our city in the heart of the continent: “Trees are everywhere. Look out over Winnipeg … see a forest with rooftops and tall buildings barely glimpsed through a carpet of green.”

This year, civic and legislative affairs committee members held a meeting with Manitoba Conservation Minister Stan Struthers to inform him about our commitment to the quality of life program. At the meeting, a program was discussed to improve the health of the city’s trees. REALTORS® also discussed  providing help to get information out on mosquito abatement to reduce the need for fogging.

The minister was receptive to REALTORS® helping in such areas, while his staff encouraged REALTORS® to apply for funding to the Sustainable Development Innovations Fund. although to this point nothing has come to fruition. 

REALTOR® Enid Westwood, a committee member who met with the minister, has already made a commitment to saving Winnipeg’s elms as a tree banding block captain for her neighbourhood. She is participating in Trees Winnipeg’s fall campaign that engages residents to become more active in saving the elms. She said other REALTORS® are doing similar work in their neighbourhood. 

“As a REALTOR®, I understand how healthy well-manicured trees can increase the value of a property by up to 15 per cent,” said Enid Westwood. “Our urban trees grace our yards, parks, boulevards, riverbanks and form a lush canopy of foliage over our streets. In fact, Winnipeg has over 200,000 stately American elms and visitors are astounded by our forest. 

“Homeowners need to understand they can make a difference in protecting the trees on their properties,” she added. “Tree banding is an environmentally safe way to reduce and control cankerworm caterpillars which often defoliate our elm, ash, basswood, apple and cherry trees in southern Manitoba during May and June. It protects elm trees in particular from serious defoliation as they can become much more susceptible to attack from the bark beetle which spreads Dutch Elm Disease.”

The purpose of the Trees Winnipeg  fall campaign is to band trees before the end of September, or first frost, in order to capture adult moths that emerge 

in the spring. Bands are applied and 

removed by Trees Winnipeg staff. 

The following information is from the Trees Winnipeg website:

Banding to control canker worms — Tanglefoot banding of tree trunks is an environmentally-friendly way to control canker worms. However, to be effective, all neighbouring trees should be banded. Banding only one tree is of little benefit if there are other trees in close proximity that are not banded.

When to band your trees — To avoid cankerworm problems in the spring, band your trees in the fall by 

September 15 or before the first frost. Bands remain on the tree over winter. In late winter or by March 15, check your bands to see if more tanglefoot should be applied to protect the tree against the spring cankerworm. If the band is coated with moths and other debris, the spring cankerworm moth can crawl over the band. A fresh application of tanglefoot may be required.

When to Take the bands off — Take bands off by May 15. A good rule of thumb is to band the trees on the September long weekend and take them off on the May long weekend. Bands that are left on the trees over our hot summers cause tree rot, encouraging insect infestation and are unsightly. As a service, we offer to put up the bands and take them off for you at a very reasonable cost. Just fill out our form and we will register you for the banding service when we receive your form and payment. 

As stated, the bands are put up around the Labour Day weekend. Removal of the band is included in the cost and shall be done around the May long weekend.

To order, call the tree banding hot-line at 775-6642 or visit the website www.savetheelms.mb.ca