City of Ottawa giving away free wood chips from storm cleanup

The city of Ottawa is giving out free wood chips made from tree debris recovered after May’s major thunderstorm.

Residents can visit six locations across the city to pick them up. Officials caution they aren’t quite the same as what you would find at a store, but they are free and there’s no limit per person.

“Wood chips from storm-related tree debris will differ in size and quality from what is for sale at a garden centre,” public works general manager Alain Gonthier said in a memo to council.

The chips are some of the finer material from the wood and tree debris stored at city yards since the May 21 storm.

The derecho took down an untold number of trees and knocked out power to millions of thousands of Ottawa customers, some for more than a week.


How to pick up wood chips

There are six locations across the city where residents can pick up wood chips 24/7:


City works yards:

  • 4244 Rideau Valley Dr.
  • 1655 Maple Grove Rd.
  • 29 Hurdman Rd.
  • 2145 Roger Stevens Dr.


Recreational facilities:

  • Navan Memorial Center, 1295 Colonial Rd.
  • Nepean Sportsplex, 1701 Woodroffe Ave.

Residents must bring a shovel and their own containers for loading the chips. They are encouraged to wear work gloves and appropriate footwear, and be mindful of other vehicles.

The wood chips will be in publicly accessible areas and signage will be posted. The locations will be monitored and wood chip stock will be replenished.

The chips will be available while quantities last.

The city is also looking into auctioning off wood logs from the storm.


Cleanup to continue into fall

City crews are still working on removing damaged trees from city property, Gonthier said, adding he anticipates removal operations will continue into the fall.

Crews are also dealing with two types of stump removals on city property. Stumps that are intact will be ground next year.

“It is standard practice once a tree removal is complete for the remaining stump to be addressed the following year through the city’s stumping program,” he said.

Stumps that have been uprooted, however, will need to be removed and backfilled.

“Due to the very high number of stumps to be addressed, these will be lengthy operations,” Gonthier said. That involves hiring contractors to do the work and is expected to extend into 2023.

“Given the extended timelines, staff will be communicating with residents who have uprooted stumps on the city roadsides adjacent to their properties of the length of time it may take to have them removed.”

The city is also working to replace the significant tree canopy loss. Residents who would like a city tree planted on the right-of-way part of their property can submit a request online.

The fall 2022 planting season is full, but new requests will be processed for spring 2023.

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