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Recovering from 'Snowtember' 2014

Recovery and restoration of Calgary's urban forest

In September 2014, a late-summer snow storm impacted Calgary’s urban forest. Trees that had not yet lost their leaves were heavily weighed down by snow, causing trunks and branches to break. Of the 227 communities in Calgary, 148 with mature canopies were particularly impacted by the snow.

It is estimated that 50 per cent of the 500,000 public trees and 1.5 million private trees have been impacted. This means there are three times as many damaged trees on private property as there are on City land. Recovering from this storm will require us as a city and a community to look after our trees.

Out of this disaster, The City created the ReTree YYC program to work on the recovery and restoration of the urban forest. This recovery work started immediately after the storm and will continue over the next three years. This work will ensure we have a strong and resilient canopy for generations to come.

The Phases

The timeline for responding to the snow and restoring the health of Calgary’s urban forest is as follows:

Phase Actions Timeline

Emergency response

  • ​Restoring power to 74,000 households
  • Restoring 80 traffic signals
  • Responding to over 9,000 tree emergency service requests
  • Clearing tree& debris cleared from 227 communities
  • Completing preliminary tree assessments

September - December 2014


Corrective pruning to build resiliency into trees:

  • Flagging trees to be pruned through the use of coloured ribbons
  • Removing damaged branches that can lead to infestations and disease
  • Ensuring trees are balanced and can better withstand future weather events

November 2014 - December 2015


Removing and replanting damaged trees:

  • Completing detailed tree assessments
  • Signing trees to be removed with removal notices
  • Removing dead and dying trees
  • Public engagement to determine replanting of street trees
  • Planting of new trees

Spring 2015 - Fall 2016