Working on the ‘Greening’ of our City
Interview with Lindsay Hargreaves
The graceful tree canopies shading Brandon streets are the legacy of master nurseryman, Henry Patmore, who got the City’s urban forest off to a sound start over one hundred years ago with a variety of boulevard tree plantings.
Patmore’s son, Richard, developed the Patmore Green Ash, a hardy, fast-growing shade tree, in 1976. Ideal for boulevard and residential planting, it became popular across Canada and the U.S.
But now, planting any ash tree variety is not recommended, thanks to the Emerald Ash Borer. Evidence discovered in November 2017 showed this invasive beetle has now spread to Winnipeg from Ontario, where it destroyed 20 million ash trees.
There is no sign of the beetle in Brandon but the City is being vigilant.
About 15,000 ash trees are on public property and an unknown number exist on privately owned land.
Developing a plan to keep our urban forest healthy is one of the projects Lindsay Hargreaves is tackling as Environmental Initiatives Coordinator:
I took a gamble that gave me a chance to work on environmental issues and it led to the job I have now.
In high school I became interested in environmental science and went on to get a diploma in Environmental Assessment and Restoration, and then a Bachelor of Agriculture degree in environmental science.
There weren’t any openings here for environmental jobs when I came back to Brandon after graduation in 2009. While I was trying to figure out what to do next, I saw an advertisement for part-time work with a four-year environmental pilot project.
Although it wasn’t a permanent job, I decided to apply. They hired someone else — but when she quit after working four days, I was offered the job.
So, I began working for the provincial Community Led Emissions Reduction program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the community, and in city operations.
When CLER ended in 2012, the City hired me to work on community and corporate environmental programs as the full-time Environmental Initiatives Coordinator.
My job involves working with City staff, the Brandon Environment Committee and others in the community on the objectives of Brandon’s Environmental Strategic Plan. The first Plan came out in 2007. It was updated in 2013 and now I’m working on an update for 2018.
I co-chair the Water Conservation Committee and wrote the city’s first formal Water Conservation plan, which was developed by the committee.
It sets out procedures to reduce per capita water consumption by 30 percent over the next 30 years. We meet quarterly to see that the plan stays on track.
I worked with a steering committee to develop a brownfield strategy that includes a financial incentive to encourage owners to remediate their contaminated properties.
I’m also finishing an Urban Forestry Management Plan that includes a tree protection policy, and an integrated pest management plan.
There are often requests to do projects that aren’t part of my schedule. Last year, I was asked design a rain garden at the airport as part of a storm water management plan for the airport’s LEED certification.
I consulted with the engineering department and Assiniboine Hills Conservation District for help in planning the garden. It will be ready this spring.
In 2010, I designed the Waste Reduction School Challenge to educate elementary school students about recycling in a way that would be fun for them and fit in with their school curriculum.
The Challenge is really popular with the teachers and the kids. We’ve also shared the program with other municipalities across Canada.
I created Enviro Expo in 2013. It’s a day-long series of interactive workshops geared to students in grades three to six. Volunteer presenters make the workshops interesting and fun — registration for the Expo usually fills up within four hours.
I also plan events that involve the public — Brandon Earth Day Celebrations, Eco-Day, and Community Clean Sweep.
My job involves a lot of research, which I enjoy. I’m always curious to find out what’s out there and what’s achievable for us.
— by Brandon Now