Snow drifts down, people shuffle into Hamilton City Hall to conduct the business of the city, and among them are representatives from OPIRG McMaster.

OPIRG is giving a report to the Public Works Committee on the successful outcome of our Street Tree Project’s second year of work.

At the microphone is Anna Kulesza, a second year Geography, Earth, and Environmental Science student who volunteered in the summer with the Street Tree Project.

The Street Tree project uses air quality data gathered at the neighbourhood level by Clean Air Hamilton, examines the urban forest canopy (or lack thereof), and determines which areas are most in need of street trees to help address localized air pollution.

We all know trees are good air filters, but not everyone knows that the city of Hamilton will provide a free tree for the front yard of your property (within the road allowance).

Anna in action in Crown Point, summer 2014

OPIRG’s contribution is to hire a summer student who then arranges volunteers to go door-to-door in selected neighbourhoods, signing residents up for their free tree from a wide range of tree choices.

In our first summer, our pilot project in Hamilton’s Keith Neighbourhood yielded 20 years of street tree requests in 2 months, based on average number of requests in previous years!

This past summer we focused on the McAnulty neighbourhood in Crown Point, with similar positive results.

Anna’s presentation today was to give an overview of the work we have done, and to thank the city staff like Bill Longley, and partners who all contributed to the success of the OPIRG Street Tree Project.

You can read the final report in full at our Street Tree blog

Anna gained some valuable experience presenting to decision-makers at City Hall, an aspect of democracy in action. It takes courage to stand and deliver a speech, and Anna did a great job! Thanks Anna for your dedication and devotion to the Street Tree Project!

Some kind words of thanks from Committee chair councillor Sam Merulla, who supported the street tree project this summer in his role as councillor for the ward we were working in.