Snow doesn't deter Montreal tree planters

MONTREAL - Workers planted on Thursday 100 trees in Ahuntsic-Cartierville as part of the city's push to plant 22,000 trees before the end of 2019.

Snowflakes hit workers as they placed young maples into dug-out holes.

A sharp, cold day doesn't seem like an ideal time to plant trees, acknowledged Philippe Sabourin, a spokesperson for the city of Montreal. But it is.

"Even though it's snowing today, it's the perfect time of the year to plant trees. We have to do that late in the fall or early in the spring," he explained.

The workers toiled in the winter chill, hoisting dirt and shovels. Scenes like this will be typical across the city in the coming weeks: in parks, along roads and even in front of citizen's houses, Sabourin said. To plant 22,000 before the year ends, Montreal city workers will be busy.

But, some Montrealers aren't pleased with the trees the city is offering.

Last month, 91-year-old Antonio Nitti sat on his lawn, refusing to move until the tree planters left. He wanted a small tree, not a big one that would block his view.

Now, the trees come with a tag explaining the benefits they provide.

Properties with trees tend to be more valuable, the tags explained. Additionally, their branches provide shade to cool homes in summer, reducing the need for air conditioning. Such effects shouldn't be underestimated, according to Jeremy Kerr, an ecologist at the University of Ottawa.

"The health benefits of having cooler weather, the health benefits of having more reasonable temperatures, the health benefits of having access to shade -- these are very significant," he said.

The trees will also breathe in carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas and cause of climate change.

But, the trees can't fight climate change on their own, said Jim Fyles, professor of Natural Resource Sciences at Mcgill University.

He said a cleaner energy system that consumes fewer fossil fuels is needed.

Right now, the city of Montreal said trees cover 20 per cent of the city. Administrators hope to increase that to 25 per cent over the next five years.  

With files from CTV Montreal's Amanda Kline