01/05/2014 02:40 EST | Updated 03/06/2014 05:59 EST

The Week In Review: Toronto's Trees Don't Need the Army, They Need Less Red Tape

With Toronto's ice storm now past, the city is turning its attention to cleaning up fallen branches and taking care of damaged trees -- a process that we're told will cost $75-million. About $25-million of that money will be spent on picking up the debris, with the rest going to tending to the injured tree canopy. No wonder a climatologist told the Toronto Star that the 2013 storm was the most "devastating" event ever to hit Toronto trees. (Might a plant-obsessed version of Bob Geldof be found to launch an Arbor Aid concert?)

Despite the extensive damage, though, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly's musings about calling in the army to help wrestle errant branches into submission seems an overreaction. Clearly there's much work to be done, but three quarters of it must apparently involve "highly trained arborists," who tend to be in short supply in the military.

Perhaps the more relevant musing at this point is: Why is it so onerous for Toronto residents to maintain, prune, or -- God forbid -- remove trees in their own yards? (See, for example, this 2012 Norm Kelly newsletter, in which the councillor explains that, yes, you may remove a dead tree from your lawn, but only after you've emailed a photo of it to the Urban Forestry department so they can confirm that it is indeed a goner.) And if the process weren't so bureaucratic, might our clean-up costs and damage in the wake of Mother Nature's outburst have been less severe?

Something to think about over the two months it's going to take to cart away all the broken boughs.


Ice Storm 2013