Thousands of trees planted at Owen Sound hospital grounds

Story Credit: Owen Sound Sun Times

Nearly 3,000 trees have been planted at the Owen Sound hospital grounds as part of the first phase of NeighbourWoods North’s project to naturalize the property. “I think we’ve got about 40 species of trees in there now,” Lloyd Lewis, chair of the community group, said in a weekend interview. “We would like to continue developing the biodiversity and getting particularly more native species in there and keep on going to 50 to 75 to maybe even 100 species. “And the eventual plan would be to create a variety of pathways to walk, to sit and relax, but also with interpretive signs about nature and about trees. And ultimately the paths would extend all the way around the 28-acre hospital grounds.” Grey Bruce Health Services unveiled a plaque Saturday morning to recognize the people and organizations that have helped to turn a seven-acre formerly vacant field at the hospital into an urban forest, GBHS spokesperson Mary Margaret Crapper said. “Lloyd Lewis of NeighbourWoods North and Dr. Gord Edwards approached GBHS with a multi-year plan to naturalize the Owen Sound regional hospital property less than a year ago,” she said. “They said they would find the funds, secure thousands of trees, organize hundreds of volunteers to plant, mulch, weed and water the trees, and that they would have it all done by the fall of 2018. “They’ve succeeded and we are extremely grateful to everyone involved and very proud of the result.” Lewis, a retired high school outdoor education teacher who has been involved in several initiatives over the years to “green” communities, and Edwards, a retired Owen Sound physician, presented the community group’s 10-year plan for naturalizing the hospital grounds late last year to the hospital corporation’s executive, which expressed support for the project. Planting began on Earth Day in April and thousands of seedlings were planted in May. GBHS says a prolonged dry spell this summer killed many of the seedlings, “despite teams of concerned citizens assisting in an organized watering program.” NeighbourWoods North volunteers then worked together to plant another 300 trees, both big and small, on the hospital grounds. “This has been a huge community effort. With the help of over 100 volunteers, GBHS staff and physicians, we planted nearly 3,000 trees of varying species,” Lewis said. NeighbourWoods North’s plan also includes creating a network of pathways in the new forest for residents, visitors and patients. “Next year, we’ll continue with the forest. We’ll need maintenance, adding more trees and adding pathways into the forest,” he said. The group is in discussions with Bremont Homes Corp., which is planning to build a subdivision with hundreds of homes on a property adjacent to the hospital grounds, to save trees that will have to be removed from the development site and replant them in the urban forest. “We’re trying to negotiate to get the 15- and 20-foot trees that are going to be destroyed, dug up and then transplanted onto the hospital grounds. So things are in the works for that,” he said. The group is also hoping to work with a local gardeners’ organization to create a garden with native plants on a grassy traffic island near the front doors of the hospital.

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