Urban Forestry

The forestry part of Forestry & Horticulture manages the trees along streets, in parks, and in more natural areas within the City. This includes planning, planting, pruning, removing, injecting, inventorying, assessing, and designing and many more activities.  

Our guiding document that will be rewritten as it reaches its end of term is our Urban Forest Management Plan. This is a strategic (long term) document that identifies what currently exists, what the goals are for the future, and how we'll measure them. It also includes recommendations for the City and the section moving forward.

There are many external organizations involved in urban forest management. To learn more, visit The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), The Ontario Professional Forester's Association (OPFA), and The Ontario College of Trades


 Supervisor of Forestry & Horticulture - Professional Forester - Mike Dixon

Mike is the Supervisor of Forestry & Horticulture and is a Registered Professional Forester (as detailed in the Ontario Professional Forester's Act 2000with over 40 years of experience in the forest industry sector. He is also a certified utility arborist with the Ontario College of Trades. He directs and evaluates work that is done from a planning and management perspective for both the urban forestry operations and the Conservatory operations, and is also responsible for the Corporation's duties to its employees and budgeting for the section. Mike liases with external organizations such as the Regional Public Works Comissioners of Ontario (RPWCO) in their Urban Forestry sub-committee, Friends of The Conservatory, as well as others.

Prior to his time at the City, Mike was the Operations Forester for Synergy North (formerly Thunder Bay Hydro) where he developed a vegetation management plan for tree trimming endeavours and has worked for traditional forestry companies as well.

 City Forester - Doug Picard

Doug is a Certified Red Seal Arborist with over 25 years of experience in the Forestry and Urban Forestry Sectors.  He is an Honours double major graduate from Lakehead University, and ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified. He has been working for the City of Thunder Bay since 2017, prior to this move he was sole proprietor of a successful tree care business that was operating in the North West region for over ten years.

His duties include planning the annual tree planting program, reviewing engineering drafts and construction projects for tree conflicts, permitting processes that involve trees, working with by-law enforcement for tree-related issues, and inspection of more complex tree-health assessments. He is also responsible for finding funding through non-govermnetal organizations or Crown funding. 

 Forestry Leadhand - Deryk Fournier

Our forestry leadhand, Deryk, is an arborist certified through the Ontario College of Trades who directs the arborist crews in their day to day activities and writes work prescriptions for the trees that require work. He also handles the majority of Service Requests that come to our department

Deryk also has his exterminator's license from the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks.  

 Conservatory Leadhand / Curator - Karen Nadeau
Karen is responsible for directing the conservatory crews in their year-round duties and is the one who plans every garden bed throughout the City. She was instrumental in the addition of more native perennial plants to the beds, reducing the need to dig up the remains of annual plants. A wealth of information about horticulture as a whole, she also plans a number of events that occur at the Conservatory, providing a service to the community. 
 Emerald Ash Borer Services Coordinator (Intern) - Robert Scott

Funded partially through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, Robert is responsible for the management of the City's response to the emerald ash borer. This includes the monitoring of the insect with green prism traps, supervising the contractor doing the annual tree injections, performing injections, sampling branches, and inspecting the trees for injection.

Robert graduated from Lakehead University with a Honours Bachelor of Science in Forestry. He is a Forester in Training, and an exterminator through the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks.

Arboriculture Crews
All of the individuals who make the cuts on City trees must be a Certified Arborist, either through the ISA or through the Ontario College of Trades. These crews are made up of skilled individuals who are trained to understand trees and how to directly affect them in a safe manner to promote the health of the tree and reduce the risk it poses to the public. Arboriculture often involves the careful use of ropes and pulleys to safely lower large pieces of the tree to the ground and should only be performed by certified individuals. With the help of contracted crews, they manage the over 30,000 trees within the City of Thunder Bay.
Horticulture Crews

Every garden bed on City lands is carefully planted and maintained by this horticulture crew of seasonal employees and full-time employees. That equates to over 114 beds throughout the City, the most notable of which are at Hillcrest Park and Friendship Gardens. The plants that are installed in these beds and in stormwater LID's are also grown within the Conservatory with most annual plants being grown from seed! 

This staff group also maintains the three sections of the Centennial Conservatory; the open Tropical House as well as the closed Cactus House and East Wing. In the Tropical House, they maintain plants that have an estimated value over $2 million. 

Tree City of The World

In February of 2020, The City of Thunder Bay was declared a Tree City of The World! The program is run by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, The Arbor Day Foundation, and Tree Canada.

The program recognizes cities that meet a certain standard for the management of urban forests. Each city must meet or exceed the following five standards. 

  1. Establish Responsibility
  2. Set the Rules
  3. Allocate the Resources
  4. Know What You Have
  5. Celebrate Achievements

By having the staff listed above, we have established responsibility for the care of trees in Thunder Bay. Through the implementation of our Public Tree By-Law and our Parks & Open Spaces Standards and Specifications we have set the rules for tree care in the City. The annual City Budget mentions tree maintenance and our Emerald Ash Borer management program so we are allocating resources to managing urban trees. Our street tree inventory (2015) and park tree inventory (2018) let us know what assets we have, as well as our canopy studies to determine tree cover. Finally, through events like Arbor Day and the Canadian Institute of Forestry's National Forest Week, we celebrate trees in our urban environment.

Centennial Conservatory

As part of the operations of Forestry & Horticulture, the Centennial Conservatory operates to offer a tropical house to citizens year-round but also to plant and maintain over 114 garden beds throughout the City. Their work is also instrumental in the growing of plants, planting, and maintenance of Low Impact Developments as part of the City's Stormwater Management Plan

The Centennial Conservatory also hosts events throughout the year, planned both internally and with the help of The Friends of the Conservatory.

Find out more about visiting and booking events at the Centennial Conservatory here.

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