Cooling trees a hot debate

Motion for a city tree report blocked by Lord Mayor

COOLING trees became a hot debate among Parramatta councillors at last week’s council meeting.

An earlier motion by Cr Sameer Pandey, backed by Cr Donna Davis, for staff to prepare a report on the number of trees in the LGA and what needed to be done to improve the tree canopy was rescinded in a motion from Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer and Crs Steven Issa and Andrew Jefferies.

The original motion had been carried by most councillors with Crs Dwyer, Issa, Jefferies, Martin Zaiter and Bill Tyrrell against.

Last week, the council was split 7-7, with deputy Lord Mayor Michelle Garrard, deputising for the Lord Mayor, using her casting vote to carry the rescission motion.

The original motion from Cr Pandey asked for the council to prepare a report including a target and timeframe, to prioritize tree canopy increase in the CBD in particular, improve the protection of trees in heritage areas and implement an education program on the important role of trees in cooling the city.

Comparison of heat

Cr Pandey presented a comparison of heat between well-treed Galloway St and tree-poor nearby Dakin St, North Parramatta.

“Last summer, Galloway St experienced five days of temperatures above 40 degrees while Dakin St had 13 times above 40 degrees,” he said.

Cr Patricia Prociv said she “could not understand and the community will not understand” why half the councillors did not want to improve the tree coverage of the LGA.

Cr Donna Davis lamented that the issue had become “a political football”. She said that there was room for improvement in the council’s tree-planting policy.

But Cr Dwyer said the council had a good record of tree planting, although he conceded that planting more trees in the CBD would be difficult given the high density.

“Council has planted 502, 000 trees throughout the LGA in the past five years,” Cr Dwyer said. “And we give trees to residents twice a year.”

He also said that a strict policy on tree removal on residential properties would thwart young homeowners from realising the home of their dreams.

Cr Issa quoted from a report from Associate Professor John Hunter from the Centre of Urban Research that named Parramatta as a “standout” council among councils across the country for balancing an increase in “grey space” with an increase in “green cover”.

Cr Pandey said he had “only been asking for a report” and was disappointed that his vision to cool Parramatta in a time of rising temperatures had been thwarted.


PHOTO: Well-treed Galloway St had fewer days above 40 deg than nearby streets.

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