Today, I was proud to successfully advocate for up to $3 million of Disaster Financial Assistance Program funds be dedicated to help replant and revitalize Winnipeg’s severely damaged tree canopy after the unprecedented October 2019 ice and snowstorm.
With a motion passed by the Standing Policy Committee Protection Community Services and Parks, the funding request to see the City of Winnipeg dedicate up to $1 million per year to the 2021, 2022 and 2023 operating budgets of the City of Winnipeg’s Forestry branch will be on the agenda for consideration at the next Executive Policy Committee meeting on June 18.
The devastating storm last October decimated our tree canopy and damaged or destroyed approximately 30,000 city-owned trees and tens of thousands more on private property. As such, we know that a significant portion of the city’s costs resulting from the disaster were forestry-related. Through this important commitment to the replanting of our trees and the reforestation of our city, we are doing the important groundwork for future generations in order to combat climate change.
Current forecasts indicate that if every cost submitted is deemed eligible by the Province of Manitoba, the City of Winnipeg’s General Revenue Fund would receive approximately $4 to $5 million from the Disaster Financial Assistance Program. In alignment with public sector accounting rules, as the expenses for storm have been largely accounted for in 2019 and any revenue arising from the Disaster Financial Assistance Program will be accounted for in 2020, I believe this funding should be secured to offset costs that were taken from the existing Forestry budget to deal with the removal of fallen and damaged trees.
Providing stable and predictable funding year over year to the Forestry Department is crucial to allow for steady and sustainable planning and progress toward a renewed Winnipeg tree canopy that will be fundamental in the decades to come.
I’ll continue to keep you updated on the progress of this motion here and on my social media channels.