A generous donation from a Collingwood admirer will see the town become a lot greener.
In June, Coun. Yvonne Hamlin was approached by Julie Di Lorenzo, who wished to gift the town with $500,000 over five years to support the growth of tree infrastructure in Collingwood. In a meeting with staff, the donor indicated that the funding would amount to $100,000 per year for five years.
At council on Wednesday night, council directed staff to sign on for The Julie Di Bartolomeo-Di Lorenzo-Graham Tree Initiative, which will start in 2019. Plans in 2020 and beyond will include planting a symbolic tree preserve at Fisher Fields and planting along the Hamilton Drain Trail to replace trees that have been removed due to the Emerald Ash Borer, proposed to be re-named as The 1,000 Tree Trail.
“This is an amazingly pure donation,” said Dean Collver, director of parks, recreation and culture. “The donor doesn’t own property in Collingwood, but comes to the area and sees what we are attempting to do here from an environmental standpoint and wants to support that. It’s very generous.”
The donation comes with nearly no strings attached, the only caveat being that Di Lorenzo would like to participate in the planning of each year’s execution of plantings.
“We certainly welcome that along with expertise from bodies such as the NVCA (Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority) and our own forest management plans,” said Collver.
The town will collaborate with forestry experts and arborists on how to most effectively use the funds with the goal of effectively increasing the tree canopy with native species in an appropriate location and calibre.
“Staff are really excited to get the ball rolling on this,” added Collver.
Hamlin gave some background on Di Lorenzo to council, outlining her work as a real estate developer in downtown Toronto.
“She has a reputation for excellence,” said Hamlin. “She’s a philanthropist and is a member of a number of community boards. I’ve known Julie for a number of years... she came to me and said she loved trees and was interested in preserving trees and that started the conversation.”
Once the funding deposit is received, staff will work with Di Lorenzo to finalize the first planting of trees and a public event to kick off the beginning of the program.