Help Plant Trees in Cousins Park, Get a Free Tree

October 14, 2016

The community is invited to lend a helping hand to restore a segment of Piercy Creek and get a free native tree in the process. A community tree plant-in is happening on Monday October 24 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm in Cousins Park in west Courtenay. Free native trees will be made available to volunteers of the plant-in on a first-come, first-served basis.

The 4.1 acre park, tucked away behind the 2200 block Cousins Avenue, is accessible via a short pedestrian walkway.  Volunteers are asked to park on Cousins Avenue or 22nd Street.

The City of Courtenay, the Millard-Piercy Watershed Stewards, and the Saltwater School located in the nearby Tin Town mixed use development are partnering for the event. Children from the school often use the park as an outdoor play space. The Millard-Piercy Watershed Stewards have provided expertise on the restoration. The plant-in will also provide an educational opportunity on the importance of riparian areas, and Piercy Creek in particular.

“By making free native trees available to residents, the public can become a partner in this restoration project as well,” notes Nancy Gothard, environmental planner. “The City is reviewing the Tree Management and Protection Bylaw and we’re learning that there is opportunity for, and interest in, regenerating the urban forest. This grant was a perfect opportunity to share the benefits of the urban canopy on both public and private land.”

The tree planting was made possible through the BC Hydro and Tree Canada Foundation Partnership Program. The fund supports enhancing urban open space, beautifying parks and outdoor recreation areas, creating habitat and supporting stewardship actions, and diversifying and enhancing urban forests. The City received $8,000 from the fund to help achieve these goals on public and private land.

Volunteers will plant trees within the Piercy Creek watershed, ideally as close to the creek as possible. Any volunteer who participates in the plant-in can take home a tree. A variety of native trees in one and two gallon pot sizes will be available: Garry oak, Pacific dogwood (crossed with Eddie’s white wonder for fungus resistance), Douglas fir, Western red cedar, Western hemlock, Douglas maple, and Pacific crab apple.  

The project is particularly timely as a new network of trails are being developed within the neighbouring residential project to the south.  As part of The Streams residential development, 4.2 hectares of environmentally sensitive park land and walking trails will be dedicated to the City at a future date. A number of fish habitat enhancements were a requirement of the development. The future public trail will connect Cousins Park, Tater Place and Arden Road. The public is asked not to access the private property at this time as construction of the parks and adjacent residential lands is on-going.

Participants are reminded to dress for the weather and to bring their own working gloves. Shovels and trowels will be provided although volunteers are encouraged to bring their own. Coordinators will be on site to assist with the plantings and snacks will be provided. Businesses located directly adjacent to the creek are also eligible for a free tree.

For more information, please contact Nancy Gothard, City of Courtenay environmental planner, at 250-334-4441 or email