In 2013 we piloted our first Street Tree Program in Hamilton's ward three Keith Neighbourhood.  The student we hired through a summer career placement grant with OPIRG McMaster, and in partnership with the city's forestry department, went door to door to sign up residents for a free city street tree for their front yard.

After a two-month campaign, we had 67 tree requests in this small neighbourhood. Based on the average requests for trees in this area, that was the equivalent of 20-years worth of requests. We repeated the door to door campaign each spring/summer for the next several years, all in the lower-city where poor air quality and lack of tree canopy was most pronounced, we essentially Triaged the tree program. :)

Today, I went for a bike ride with a print-out of the addresses of people who had requested trees. My goal was to get an idea of how many requests made it into actual trees growing.

I didn't get to every street, but I did visit 48 of the 67 addresses (72%), and of those 48 addresses, 25 had live trees growing (52%).

At first, it seemed disappointing, but there were factors that make the numbers seem worse than they are; several of the addresses (about 12%) had such small unpaved areas in front to make planting a tree impossible, based on the city's criteria. 

The other heartening factor was the street trees that have been added since our effort in 2013. 

I had the opportunity to chat with a couple of people about their trees, a couple stories came out about the original tree from 2013 dying and being replaced by the city (explaining why a couple trees seemed smaller than others). 

Without going into needless details, I'm just going to share some of the images from today.

Remember, you can request a free street tree for your property from the city of Hamilton - here's their website: