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Clean North helps trees find new home at Northway Wellness Centre

Clean North, hospital and several other partners have worked on transplantation project; new residential withdrawal management facility set to open soon

Sault Area Hospital’s Northway Wellness Centre at 145 Old Garden River Rd. will be opening soon with 20 private rooms and supporting people 16 and older who need help with mental health and/or addictions crises.

Clean North, with the help of several community partners and volunteers, is working hard to bring some natural beauty to the centre’s exterior to cheer its clients on their road to recovery.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week, a group of about 30 Clean North volunteers transplanted approximately 30 northern white cedar trees on the Centre’s south exterior.

“Sault Area Hospital, with a number of commercial contractors, SalDan in particular, have been working on the Northway Wellness Centre for quite a while and Clean North became aware that the hospital project had some limitations in what they could do for exterior landscaping at the site. There were some budget issues. We asked the hospital if they could use some trees,” said Bill Cole, Clean North board chair speaking to SooToday.

Clean North has a small plantation of northern white cedar trees on Third Line.

“The trees were salvaged from forestry research projects by a couple of the government agencies here in town, so one of our Clean North people became aware of these cedar trees, collected them and planted them at a Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry arboretum,” Cole said.

“Those trees have just been sitting there and growing and getting bigger and waiting for an opportunity to be repurposed.”

Clean North approached SAH with its offer of trees for the Northway Wellness Centre last year.

“They were extremely excited,” Cole said.

Clean North, after receiving a $9,500 grant from the City of Sault Ste. Marie Green Initiatives Program, began root pruning the trees at the plantation and preparing them for transplantation.

The funding received from the City allowed Clean North to rent or buy equipment to make the project work. 

“Some of the trees were small enough that we could dig them up and lift them and move them by hand. Other trees are up to four metres tall and weigh several hundred pounds when they’re extracted from the ground so we required a tractor and trailers to move them over to the Northway site,” Cole said.

Several partners helped Clean North and SAH with the transplantation of the trees.

They include:

  • Design Environment Landscape Architect Inc. of Goulais River 
  • City of Sault Ste. Marie Green Initiatives Grant Program
  • SalDan Construction
  • Service Rentals
  • Cintas Uniform Service
  • Sault Naturalists
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

“SalDan is the general contractor and they have been wonderful in supporting us. Cintas Uniform Service contributed some surplus bed sheets and linens to wrap up and protect the tree roots. A number of volunteers have come through Clean North, Sault Naturalists and Sault College,” Cole said.

Service Rentals helped with heavy equipment needs.

“We used a Bobcat tracked skid steer with a specialized tree scoop. It’s about a one metre-long, pointy-nosed shovel that goes in front of a Bobcat. It’s a pointy scoop that we purchased with the grant money. We poked it in the ground underneath each cedar tree, raised the bucket and tipped each tree back, lifted it out, put it on a bed sheet and then on the trailer.”

Upon arrival at Northway, SalDan helped with a front end loader and backhoe.

Clean North will transplant more northern white cedar trees at Northway Wellness Centre this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Cole said.

“If we can get another 30 to 50 trees moved over in this next phase that’ll really meet our goal.”

Trees already transplanted at Northway are located on the property’s south side and it is hoped that a small row of trees transplanted along the north side of the Centre will serve as a visual buffer between the building and Second Line East. 

“Sault Area Hospital and this inpatient centre is a terrific resource for Sault Ste. Marie. It’s so desperately needed and it’s good for Clean North to be able to contribute trees, to repurpose them instead of going into the landfill. They were saved and planted for future use. We’re thrilled that those trees are getting repurposed and they're going to grow. They’re part of the city’s contribution to climate change and up at that site it provides some visual aesthetic value,” Cole said.

SAH will hold a grand opening event for the Northway Wellness Centre later this month.

“We are in the final stages of preparing for the opening of Northway. We will announce the official opening date at the Grand Opening event,” wrote Brandy Sharp Young, SAH spokesperson in an email to SooToday.

“The trees provide natural landscaping for the clients and the staff. We’re really happy that we were able to connect with Sault Area Hospital on this and with all the partners coming together to make this happen,” Cole said.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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