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Centre Wellington looking into offsetting carbon cost of travel

A delegation from the local Tree Trust organization encouraged council to do so through donating to the legacy tree preservation program
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Toni Ellis, tree trust executive director, said one large tree does the work of close to 300 saplings environment wise. Mayor Kelly Linton joked she is 'always in his face about the trees.'

CENTRE WELLINGTON – The Township of Centre Wellington will consider offsetting staff and council’s carbon footprint created through travel by contributing to a local environmental program. 

At Tuesday’s committee of the whole, council directed staff to look into this after a delegation by Toni Ellis, executive director of Centre Wellington’s Tree Trust program. 

Ellis explained Tree Trust is a program of the Elora Environment Centre first started in 2019 to preserve old trees. 

The program uses donations to hire arborists to reduce the tree’s crown, remove deadwood and other efforts in order to extend the life of the tree for the many benefits Ellis said they bring such as providing shade, mitigating stormwater, acting as a habitat for wildlife and storing carbon among others. 

“It’s really understood now that the bigger the tree, the greater the benefit,” Ellis said. “There’s more leaves, there’s more wood in the tree storing the carbon, there’s more habitat space.”

Ellis said one way to encourage donations was through their carbon cost calculator that shows how much money should be donated to make up for their carbon cost through flying, driving and other travel means. 

This is what Ellis came to council about. She asked them to consider supporting this program through offsetting any travel done by council or staff. Donations are fairly modest, a 200 km trip by car works out to about $1.20 and a flight to Montreal and back is $10.80.

There was no specific number attached to Ellis’ ask, but her delegation paper suggested council may wish to issue an internal challenge to sustain a legacy tree, priced at approximately $1800 although Ellis said at the meeting this could vary. 

Council approved a motion to have staff investigate offsetting the carbon cost of travel made by staff and councillors. 

A report will come back at a later date.