DENNIS HOWLETT − I live just two doors away from Inverlea Park which hugs the Otonabee River just North of Park Hill Road in Peterborough. It is a beautiful park with many large old trees, and well-used by dog walkers, fishers, basketball players and children who play on the swings and climbing structure. I am one of many who also go swimming in the river when it is really hot. In the winter, neighbours work together to make a skating rink.
Neighbours got together to save the park from being destroyed to make way for a new fire hall last year. It was one of three sites that were being considered but thankfully it was spared, in part because of the strong opposition from citizens. In the process of the struggle, we all got to know our neighbours better and formed a strong community spirit that has continued to be nurtured with porch parties and gatherings in the park.
Although we were able to save the park from becoming a firehall, we were not able to spare it from the fury of the violent storm that hit Peterborough in May. A dozen of the large old trees were blown over. Broken branches littered the park. Our beloved park was a mess. After the storm I took a sad walk through the park with my neighbour’s dog and mourned the loss of trees that had been growing for many decades.
I was relieved to see, a number of weeks later, that the city had planted 11 new trees to replace the ones that had been lost. Mostly oak and pine. But when I walked through the park today I was disappointed to find that four of the new trees have died. Probably because they were not watered enough during the summer. So that means a net loss of 5 trees.
It will take many years for the new trees to grow big enough to provide the wonderful shade for most of the way around the park and that enabled me to keep cool when walking the dog. Trees also provide homes for squirrels and birds, clean the air we breathe and prevent erosion and flooding and help us mitigate the effects of climate change. They are valuable assets that need to be cared for.
Although the stumps that remain in the park are sad reminders of the loss we experienced, they also inspire me to do more to protect the trees we have and advocate for our governments to plant more trees.
Dennis Howlett is Treasurer of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and past Executive Director of Canadians for Tax Fairness. Photo courtesy of Mr Howlett.