Tree Planting Continues During COVID Restrictions



Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF) continues to plant native trees and shrubs on public and private properties across York Region despite COVID-19. The non-profit has a longstanding partnership with the Regional Municipality of York to provide tree planting solutions to residents through a subsidized tree planting program for private property owners and community tree planting events for the restoration of public lands.

The subsidized tree planting program for private property owners is able to continue with some modified procedures to comply with physical distancing.

The community tree planting events were the most affected. Held in partnership with local municipalities and with additional support through Ontario Power Generation’s Regional Biodiversity Program and GrandTrees/Trees for Life, public community tree planting events had to be put on hold when the pandemic started.

Last fall, LEAF staff and specially trained volunteers took on the task of planting native trees and shrubs through small, socially-distanced planting events. This spring, LEAF has decided to go one step further. Following the Ontario government Stay-at-Home order on April 8, LEAF made the decision only staff will be partaking in the restoration efforts of public lands at least until the order is lifted.

This spring, LEAF plans to plant 1,095 trees and shrubs on 4,025 square metres of public land in the City of Richmond Hill and the Township of King. Learn more about LEAF and their programs by visiting



“Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team is committed to improving the urban forest in York Region through tree planting and stewardship on public lands. This work is essential to mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss and we look forward to a time when we can once again invite community members to join us in this important effort.”

- Brian Millward, Stewardship Coordinator at LEAF


“York Region, recently designated as a Tree City of the World, together with LEAF continues to make meaningful progress to increase canopy and woodland cover. Through the Regional Greening Strategy, we are working with all of our partners to protect, restore and create green infrastructure which helps contribute to sustainable and healthy communities.”

- Erin Mahoney, Commissioner of Environmental Services, The Regional Municipality of York


“OPG’s continued partnership with LEAF recognizes the environmental, social and health benefits provided by the community tree planting program and the value that is brought by greening our urban areas. ‘City forests’ and the biodiversity created by these green spaces are important to combat climate change and enhance all aspects of our lives.”

- John Beauchamp, Director Environment, Health & Safety, Ontario Power Generation


"GrandTrees/Canadian Trees for Life is delighted to continue working with LEAF in greening up the GTA. Their knowledge, energy and experience lead to excellent outcomes in increased tree and shrub coverage and plant survival, benefiting our communities for generations to come."

- Kim Bilous, GrandTrees/Canadian Trees for Life,


“With the help of our community and partners like LEAF, thousands of trees are planted in the City of Richmond Hill each year. We appreciate LEAF’s contribution to growing our tree canopy and helping us to build a more sustainable, resilient and healthy community.”

- Joe DiPaola, Acting Mayor, City of Richmond Hill


“The Township of King is happy to be partnering with LEAF to plant trees and shrubs at Kettle Lake Park. This planting will help increase canopy coverage, support biodiversity, and further enhance the park landscape.”


- Kathryn McLellan, Environmental Stewardship Outreach Coordinator at the Township of King



© 2021 Erin MacDonald / LEAF
Caption: Brian Millward, LEAF Stewardship Coordinator, tree planting at Kettle Lake Park
People picture: Brian Millward

Erin MacDonald
Community Programs Manager
Cell: 647-620-3746

The Regional Municipality of York: 
Melissa Pinto
Cell: 437-997-6821 

Ontario Power Generation: 
Ashley Fox 
Assistant Environmental Advisor – Corp. Environment, Health & Safety
Cell: 905-914-5109

GrandTrees/Trees for Life: 
Kim Bilous
Cell: 416-305-6776

City of Richmond Hill: 
Ash O’Malley
Communications Advisor

Township of King: 
Kathryn McLellan
Environmental Stewardship Outreach Coordinator, Community Services
Phone: 905-833-6555