Road salt killed most trees on downtown street, says City of Whitehorse

29 Aug 2020 1:45 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

The City of Whitehorse says 75 per cent of its trees planted along Main Street in the downtown core have died in the last couple of years due to road salt, making it the third time trees have had to be replaced on this street over the last few decades. 

Martin Paquette, with the city's parks and recreation department, says business owners may be contributing to killing the trees. He says too much salt is being spread on the sidewalks during the winter, which is getting into the tree bases.

"What happens with salt is that it absorbs water and reduces the amount of water available for the tree, so it creates conditions similar to drought, which is really bad for trees," Paquette said.

Paquette says the city is spending around $20,000 to replant 45 out of 60 trees over the next month.

The city purchased assiniboine poplar trees, which are known to be resilient, and plans to plant them deeper and use mulch at the base to help protect their roots. 

"Hopefully this will help absorb the salt from de-icers in the winter," said Paquette. He says the city plans to replace the mulch each spring as well. 

"So in winter it will act as an insulation and hopefully it will absorb all the salt."

Paquette wants business owners to start using sand instead of salt. He says the city is going to distribute pamphlets with more information. 

Paquette hopes the new trees will thrive this winter.

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