Council has bids for tree grants rejected

Town suffers setback in bid for tree money as both major grants are turned down

The Town of Lake Cowichan has suffered a setback in its attempt to gain money for plantings as both major tree grants council had applied for have been turned down.

The grants in question were a $15,000 grant from Tree Canada as well as a $20,000 edible tree grant.

Both of the grants would have aided the town majorly in the creation of an urban food forest and community garden as well as the inevitable planting of new trees.

However the town did receive a smaller $5,000 grant from BC Hydro to go towards tree planting.

“The Tree Canada grant and the edible trees grant (for $20,000) were both denied,” said chief administrator Joe Fernandez at April’s Sustainable Planning and Development Committee meeting. “BC Hydro has given us a $5,000 grant, even though we applied for $10,000. The reason for that is that they want to spread the money around to various communities.”

A disappointed Coun. Bob Day, who instigated the application of both grants, asked Fernandez if town staff were given an explanation of the rejections, in particular the edible tree grant.

“The reason for turning that one down was that they had too many applications,” said Fernandez in response to Day’s query at the meeting.

Day however remains defiant.

“There’s still a $20,000 grant on the table from BC Healthy Communities that I applied for and we’ll wait and see if we get it, but I’d be prepared to go into the food forest with no grants,” said Day speaking after the meeting. “If it starts off small, then that’s okay.”

Council will know by the end of May whether or not it has received the grant from BC Healthy Communities.

“I suggest we apply for the next uptake,” said Coun. Tim McGonigle at the meeting.

Fernandez tried to look on the bright side.

“We got just under $10,000 last year, so we have not been as fortunate as last year. But at least it’s something,” he said.

BC Hydro wrote a letter to the town regarding planting guidlines stating that “no trees should be planted within five metres of any powerline corridor which may exist where tall growing trees are planned. Low growing species will need to be selected if a powerline exists.”