CALGARY -- There once was a novel, written in 1943 by Betty Smith, called A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Now, thanks to a bunch of Lions Club members, there might one day be a sequel called 2, 500 Trees Grow in a Dog Park in Thorncliffe.

That's because almost a dozen members are volunteering their time in the northeast Calgary community of Thorncliffe June 16 and 17 to plant native seedlings.

"We're planting pine and larch and Saskatoon and poplar," said Otto Silzer, Lions Club centennial tree planting chair.

Silzer explained that the project is tied to the Canadian Lions celebrating the 100th anniversary of Lions Clubs International being in Canada. As part of the initiative upwards of 500 Calgary club members committed to plant 50,000 trees over the next several years, including 5,000 this year.

"We're planting 2,500 trees in this dog park," said Silzer. "I think this is a worthwhile project for the Lions to get involved with and the betterment of the community and city."

Brian Sherret lives across the street from where the trees are being planted. He's impressed by the work of the volunteers in such a big space.

"I think it's great," said Sherret. "If I'd would have known about it a little earlier I probably would have volunteered too, I used to plant trees a long, long time ago."

Brian Stevenson has been a member for 55 years. He served as international president for its 1,400,000 members in 200 countries worldwide. Stevenson says the clubs are no stranger to planting trees.

"We had a motion by one of the past presidents about 10 years ago, he challenged the Lions to plant a million trees across the world," said Stevenson. "We surprised him because we planted 15 million."


Eric Buttle has been volunteering with the Lions for 40 years and is a regular in its eye glasses recycling program. He likes improving communities close to home.

"It's just self-esteem," said Buttle. "Knowing that I'm doing something for the community."

Once finished in Thorncliffe the volunteers will head further east to Falconridge for some afternoon planting to improve yet another community.

"The old saying the sun never sets on the British Empire," said Stevenson. "It never sets on Lions and we change lives every minute of ever day for the better."

Learn more about Lions clubs here: www.lions