City revitalizes historic downtown treasure

The City of Fredericton has received a TD Green Spaces Grant through the Arbor Day Foundation to revitalize and replenish the tree canopy and green space at the Government House grounds. 

This spring, 20 Grants were allocated to North American cities to celebrate Arbor Day under the theme "Beat the Heat: Using Green Infrastructure to Cool Down Urban Heat Islands." The funding covers the planting of around 30 trees and 50 shrubs, the cost of a planting event, as well as tree maintenance in the first year.

As site manager for this National Historic Site, the City of Fredericton has been seeking an opportunity to enhance the grounds for its diverse user groups and uses throughout the year. This location will benefit from improved shade and aesthetics.

The property has been slowly losing canopy coverage for the last several decades due to storm damage, as well as natural succession. The site has a lower tree density than many nearby locations and this project will replenish the tree canopy coverage as the new trees grow. 

The Grant application was supported by the Fredericton Tree Commission, who has collaborated with the City in planning past Arbor Day celebrations. This year’s project and event add to that long history of collaboration and mutual desire to enhance, protect, and promote Fredericton's urban forest.

The City of Fredericton also plans to work with several local elementary schools to plant the trees in the fall when Covid-19 restrictions lift. Teachers, staff, and students will be invited to Government House for a tree planting day that includes opportunities for education, activities, and hands-on tree-planting experience. 

Before planting day, local students will be able to draw a picture or tell a story about the importance of trees in an urban setting, and some entries may be selected to present their picture or story during the event and receive a prize.

Preparation for the revitalization has already begun. Parks and Trees is developing the site plan, and due to the thunderstorm on June 5, a few damaged trees will be removed within the next week. As well, overgrown and unmanageable hedges will be removed, restoring waterfront trail sightlines and staff's view of the property's maintenance garage. The hedges will be replaced with diversified, low vegetation, including roses and trees, which improve visibility and safety for all users and enhance the site aesthetics.

The overall revitalization project aligns with the City's Municipal Plan and Climate Change Adaptation Plan that focuses on continued attention to urban forestry, particularly in the downtown area. 

The Arbor Day event associated with the Grant has been postponed from the planned spring date until the fall, pending Covid-19 restriction lifting.