Million Tree Challenge will ensure the legacy of our green canopy flourishes

By Peter Squire

In an earlier column that focused on Winnipeg’s proposed first multi-year budget, one budget item flagged which WinnipegREALTORS® supported was more dollars allocated to ensuring Winnipeg’s tree canopy is protected and continues to flourish.

The article stated that “another area near and dear to Winnipeggers and REALTORS® — given how they are strong ambassadors in selling the city, not just the properties they list — is the pride everyone takes in Winnipeg’s tree canopy. To protect and enhance our tree canopy, the 4-year budget has increased the urban forest enhancement program by nearly $10 million to over $25 million. There will be an outreach to the private sector to do more as Mayor Bowman has already garnered funding support for his Million Tree Challenge.”

The budget was approved in March and included the entire budget enhancement proposed above. It is now June and the Million Tree Challenge is underway.

It is important that Winnipeg residents and the private sector get behind this worthwhile and much needed initiative to ensure, that years from now — whether on the ground or in the air — you cannot help but notice what a forest of green our city has to enjoy, celebrate and be a source of pride to promote locally and beyond.

“When we see out-of-towner buyers transferred to Winnipeg at this time of year they invariably always make a comment about our tree canopy. They cannot help but notice it flying into Winnipeg, and then driving through the many mature Winnipeg neighbourhoods with their majestic elm trees,” said Catherine Schellenberg, president of WinnipegREALTORS®.

“An urban forest such as Winnipeg’s is a quality of life asset we have to preserve,” she added.

You can say that Mayor Bowman planted the seed for the Million Tree Challenge program and it now needs nurturing and water to grow.

Part of the genesis behind Mayor Bowman’s tree challenge is to see Winnipeggers plant one million trees before the city itself grows to one million people. As he has indicated, no one wants to live in a city that is bereft of the trees we have now. It truly will be a legacy for many years to come and ensure future generations will be able to embrace the beauty and value of one of Winnipeg’s best attributes. Trees bring nature right to our doorsteps, windows and decks. Properly located trees can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20% or more on heating costs. Trees also increase equity. Did you know that mature trees and a well landscaped yard can add between 7% and 19% to the value of your home? There are many benefits to planting a tree.

So how can we make this tree challenge a reality by planting a million trees by 2040?

Read the following communique from Mayor’s Office and take up the challenge:

Be one in a million — Plant a tree and let us know about it

Winnipeggers love their trees but our incredible urban forest is at risk due to old age, disease, and invasive species. With the aim of protecting and expanding our city’s immense tree canopy, Mayor Brian Bowman launched the Winnipeg Million Tree Challenge last fall to help protect, preserve and grow Winnipeg’s incredible tree canopy. A few weeks later, Winnipeg was hit with an unprecedented weather event that further deteriorated our tree canopy.

“It’s great to see that Winnipeggers can now plant a tree and register it as part of the Million Tree Challenge,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Especially in light of the unprecedented weather event last fall, I hope Winnipeggers will take up the challenge and do what they can to bolster our tree canopy.”

This summer is a perfect time to join the Challenge and help support Winnipeg’s trees. Winnipeggers can now plant a tree and register it at Be one in a million!

“I know that Winnipeg’s tree canopy is a source of pride for many Winnipeggers,” said Councillor John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry). “One of my duties moving forward will be to help promote and improve the Million Tree Challenge through engagement with Trees Winnipeg and other external stakeholders. I have been a longstanding supporter of helping make our community greener and I look forward to continuing those efforts through the Million Tree Challenge.”

In partnership with Trees Winnipeg and by building a team of residents, businesses, and not for profit groups, we aim to collectively plant one million trees before our population reaches one million people. It will be a community effort and everyone can get involved. We can all do our part to make Winnipeg healthier and greener for generations to come.

You can help by simply planting a tree in your yard. Talk to the experts and your local greenhouse or garden centre about what will grow best in your yard, and then tell us about it at

You can also help by working with community groups that will be organizing group tree planting efforts once provincial public health orders are eased.

Another way you can help is by donating to the Winnipeg Million Tree Challenge through under the designation “Winnipeg Million Tree Challenge” at

The Million Tree Challenge is off to a great start!

On the occasion of their 100th anniversary, Canadian National (CN) has recognized the vision of the Million Tree Challenge and committed $1 million to Tree Canada to support tree planting efforts in Winnipeg. Telpay Canada has also contributed $250,000 to the challenge.

And Winnipeggers are showing their generosity by sending personal donations. It is a true community commitment.

WinnipegREALTORS® will do its part to encourage its 2,054 members to become engaged in this challenge as they see the benefits first hand showing homes  draped in a canopy of trees in all their green splendor.

Peter Squire is WinnipegREALTORS® Vice-President, External Relations & Market Intelligence.