Photo by Schick/

So far in 2014, we’ve seen our share of snow, ice and bitterly cold temps here in the states, but nothing compares to the late-December ice storm our neighbors to the north are still cleaning up after. The storm, which swept through Canada December 21 and 22, knocked out power to over 300,000 residents and caused unprecedented damage to Toronto’s urban forest. Local tree care crews, officials and members of Ontario’s Arborists Association are still sorting through the debris and working on a plan to restore the city’s tree canopy. Climatologist Dave Phillips said that the storm was the most devastating environmental assault of urban forestry in the past 170 years – as far back as weather records have been kept in the city. Though it’s nearly impossible to determine exactly how many trees were lost, officials estimate about 20 percent of Toronto’s trees were lost.

The city recently announced that it plans to spend $25 million cleaning up debris from the ice storm and an additional $50 million repairing the damage to the canopy. Hundreds of city workers and contractors have been dispatched to inspect trees for safety, trim and take down potentially hazardous trees, and haul debris off of city streets and sidewalks. So, what will become of the tons of “waste wood” cleared from the city?

The city is currently running three massive grinders to process some of the wood into mulch, but some hope that a portion of the fallen trees can be repurposed into something other than chips. Two years ago the city created a formal bidding process for companies interested in buying city trees that are removed or fallen. Craftsmen, furniture builders and firewood processors are all eager to help lighten the city’s load, and make good use of the unfortunate loss of so many trees.

See page 14 of this issue for more on helping your clients deal with winter storm damage.

Katie Meyers