Mayor Brian Bowman is asking Winnipeggers to plant a seed of hope for the future in the form of a tree.
Ditching the suit, Winnipeg's mayor is spending the day playing in the dirt with colleagues. Starting at 6:45 a.m., Bowman has been joining city councillors at each of the city's 15 wards planting trees on National Tree Day. This is part of the city's One Million Tree Challenge.
"The nicest part is just getting into every corner of the city," Bowman says. "It has been beautiful."
Bowman says he was made aware of Winnipeg's need for trees by Deputy Councillor John Orlikow for years, saying that it has been a learning curb for him to understand the need. Known for its canopy, Winnipeg has roughly 300,000 trees on public land, but they in danger of losing one-third of its trees in the next century, possibly sooner.
Trees are being lost due to invasive species such as the Emerald ash borer as well as to Dutch Elm Disease. The Mayor says this issue needs to be looked at with urgency.
"The city is going to look a lot less green in decades to come and no one wants to see that," Bowman says. "We cannot completely reverse the tide overnight. It is going to take a community effort, and a sustained long term effort."
He says planting one million trees is a long term solution.
"It is going to get a lot greener. I know that Winnipeggers are going to rise to this challenge."
Bowman is asking Winnipeggers to plant one million trees before the population reached one million. As of 2019, the city's population has grown to 763,900 people.
"If every single Winnipegger is responsible for planting just one tree, that is all we ask from everybody... we will grow a million trees before we reach a million people in the city."
The objective is to plant 50,000 trees a year.
'(In) those conversations I have certainly learned more about the health benefits, the mental health benefits that come from being better connected with nature and also just, obviously, it is one of the single greatest things you can do to combat climate change."
Bowman says if homeowners need more persuading, he says trees increase property value.
"It just helps create and sustain a city that we all want to live in."
Bowman says the city is making an effort to increase biodiversity in Winnipeg.