“How do you measure its worth?” Burl Ives sang in the 1964 film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. His character, Sam the Snowman, was crooning about silver and gold. “Just by the pleasure it gives here on Earth,” he crooned.
Sam could have similarly philosophized about another natural resource that abounds in the old stop-motion classic Christmas special, albeit a renewable one: Trees.
Some might consider trees – especially those tall, majestic and old – to be priceless, far beyond the value of precious metals.
But according to the City of Edmonton, they’d be wrong.
City-owned trees are valued down to the last cent, as illustrated on the bright yellow “Tree Protection Zone” signs along stretches of Stony Plain Road closed during LRT construction. Fenced-off trees stand on both sides of the arterial road and even along some side streets.
The American elms have among the highest price tags. One near 132nd Street and 104th Avenue is valued at $24,793.35. Three others are valued between $14,000 and $21,000.
One nearby ash is tagged at $4,520.08, another at $2,702.26. A scraggly spruce is $2,288.06.
The City values trees using the Guide for Plant Appraisal, published by the International Society of Arboriculture. The formula considers size, condition and growing limitation.
It posts the value “to demonstrate to both the public and anyone working around the tree that trees are valuable assets.”
A November 2022 City blog post says: “The project agreement for the Valley Line West states that a fence goes up around a tree designated as protected or preserved if it is within 20 metres of construction.” The blog says additional penalties could be added to the posted value of the tree if a contractor damages it.