Colourful street trees continue to thrive in Rossland, Canada
Rossland is a small, alpine city located halfway between Vancouver and Calgary, just 6km north of the U.S. border. With a population of just over 3,500, Rossland is a little piece of paradise for locals and outdoor enthusiasts. It is known and loved for its natural beauty and is one of Canada’s highest cities.
In 2013, Rossland underwent a full revitalisation, which aimed to preserve green infrastructure and protect natural ecosystems, allowing healthy trees to grow. Citygreen played a vital role in this project, installing tree pits to create a corridor of trees, which continue to thrive in 2018. In this case study, we explore the evolution of the site from then to now, including recent comments from project stakeholders.
Creating ideal conditions for healthy trees
Prior to the rejuvenation project, the site was flawed by ineffective infrastructure. Previous efforts to grow healthy trees had been unsuccessful, and the streetscapes were suffering as a result.
At the time, Jeff Schurek, CSLA, Landscape Manager / Senior Landscape Architect of ISL Engineering and Land Services Ltd in Canada said, “The existing trees were about 10 to 15 years old and they hadn’t grown due to the trees being installed in pits that were just a two-meter square. The trees were doing extremely poorly. This is not an acceptable way to grow trees”.
This view was confirmed by Kevin Terness, Senior Project Engineer from ISL Engineering and Land Services, who said “In an effort to maximize the hard surface area for pedestrians, the trees had to sacrifice topsoil volume”. The result was a collection of urban trees that were mature in age, but not in appearance.
Stratacell soil cells tick all the boxes
After reviewing a range of different products, the project team chose Citygreen. Citygreen’s Stratacell soil system was selected as the best product for several reasons:
- The landscape architects loved Stratacell’s low impact design qualities and the fact that over 94% of total soil volume is available for tree root growth.
- The engineers were impressed by Stratacell’s excellent strength (Stratacell’s structural soil cell system is up to 3 x stronger than any other product).
- The contractors enjoyed the hassle-free installation process, which requires no zip ties, screws or ground spikes – Stratacell modules simply snap together.
- Stratacell provided the necessary soil volumes to allow sidewalks to be constructed over the soil cells. This meant that snow removal equipment could operate smoothly.
A smooth and efficient installation
The Stratacell installation took approximately 5 weeks, with Citygreen providing on-site support to solve problems and create efficiencies. “Citygreen was there throughout the various stages of the process in terms of technical review,” said Schurek. “They were on-site solving real issues to work with the contractor to come up with better solutions in the best way possible.”
In addition to Stratacell soil cells, a drip-line irrigation system was installed throughout the linked tree pits, together with Citygreen’s ArborVent system. ArborVent provides a permanent irrigation/aeration system and, in turn, prevents soil stagnation.
While Citygreen products were new to the contractor, there were no problems with installation. “Once the contractor understood the process, everything went smoothly”, said Terness. In fact, at the time of installation, the contractor commented that the process was much faster with Citygreen systems when compared to others he’d used.
An outstanding and lasting result
In keeping with Citygreen’s commitment to service, we’ve stayed in touch with key project stakeholders. In 2016, 3 years after installation, we spoke to Jim Markin, the arborist from the City of Rossland, who sung praises of the project. “Tree uptake has been 100% successful with the trees maturing quickly and establishing well”, he said.
Just recently, in September 2018, we contacted Jim again for comment. While Jim has since moved on to private consulting, he’s maintained an interest in the project. He confirmed that the trees were “growing very well, with excellent vibrancy, size and colour”. He also noted that “compliments about the landscaping are endless. Most people have forgotten about the soil cell structure underneath”.
The success of the project was further endorsed by Stacey Lightbourne, a planner from the City of Rossland. “The trees have grown tremendously. The community loves these trees, particularly the colours they display in the fall”, she said.
The stunning trees have transformed the landscape in the main street of Rossland, Canada. By all accounts, these urban trees will continue to delight for decades to come.