LONDON, ONT. -- There’s a growing gap between London’s desire for new trees, and council’s financial commitment to plant boulevard trees.

Recently, city hall received only a single bid to supply and plant boulevard trees.

The unit-price contract offered by Kamarah Tree Farms has an annual tender value of $3,233,920. That amount exceeds the municipal funding available for the supply and installation of boulevard trees ($2,086,000) by more than $1.1 million.

“There seems to be a tree shortage right now throughout the entire province based on the various diseases going through and killing the trees in the various cities,” explains Councillor Elizabeth Peloza, who chairs the Civic Works Committee.

Civic administration recommends council accept the five-year contract which includes an option to extend it for up to another two years.

Director of Transportation and Mobility Doug MacRae adds the contract is both scalable and secures a long term supply of trees contract

“The number of trees we plant every year is somewhat variable, and we will work with the contractor and the funds available,” says MacRae.

But Councillor Peloza remains concerned about Meeting tree planting targets.

“I’m concerned about the number of trees we want to get planted and the city’s canopy coverage seeing as we’ve declared a climate emergency.”

London’s Climate Change Strategy and Urban Forest Strategy include an ambitious target to reach 34 percent tree canopy cover by 2065.

In 2015, the tree canopy was measured at just 24 percent.

Peloza has been told by civic administration that the proposed contract for planting boulevard trees could lead to greater survival rates and thus offset any planting reductions.

“Larger trees, and a higher tree survival rate would add to that tree canopy cover even if there were fewer trees planted,” she explains.

The trees covered by this contract are used for infill planting on boulevards, in open spaces, new subdivisions, and replacing trees lost to construction.

“The number of trees planted across the city will continue to be large, and will make a good contribution towards our canopy targets.

On May 11, a report about the tree planting tender and budget gap goes before the Civic Works Committee.