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Mar 7,2005 - The Now News

Tree bylaw goes back to committee

By Jennifer Saltman - Staff Reporter

A proposed tree bylaw continues to cause controversy at Port Coquitlam council.

Council passed the first three readings of the bylaw Monday night, with Coun. Arlene Crow opposed. She said education awareness is more important than bylaws and fines.

"(It) gives residents a false hope that every tree will remain standing and that's not the case," she said.

The draft tree bylaw would make it unlawful for anyone to cut a tree without first getting a permit, with some exceptions. The bylaw would also update the current city tree bylaw, which has been in place since 1993.

The main reason for the proposed changes, according to parks and recreation director Barry Becker, is consistency. Currently the Port Coquitlam bylaw only applies to permit development areas within the city, so in some instances people on one side of the street are governed by the bylaw, while on the other side it's not applicable. The draft bylaw would be applicable to all urban lands.

The new document would also offer protection for "significant trees" and ticketing.

Coun. Mike Bowen pointed out that there's an education program that goes along with the bylaw, and that the bylaw itself is a response to people coming in to City Hall and complaining about their neighbours.

"There's still a lot of leeway here regarding clearing of properties," Coun. Mike Forrest added.

Permits would cost $75 for multi-family, industrial and commercial lots, with a per-tree fee of $25. The cost for a single-family lot would stay the same at $50 for the permit and $20 per tree.

Council was also set to consider the first three readings of a change to the ticket information utilization bylaw, to add $200 per-tree fines for cutting down trees without a permit and tree damaging activities.

"It's a formality we need to go through to have that bylaw," Bowen said.

However, the issue was referred back to the parks and recreation committee.

"I understand trying to keep it simple," Coun. Darrell Penner said. "I understand the essence of it, but I feel it needs to go back."

What concerns him most, he said, is the fact that the $200 fine for cutting down a tree includes significant trees. Penner said he wants to see a real deterrent for people who ignore the bylaw, and he said he couldn't support the amendment as it stands.

He also said he wouldn't support the amendment or the bylaw unless it was referred back to committee.

Becker said although the fine may not cover the full replacement cost, depending on the size of the tree, there is a three-tiered approach the city can take: ticketing per tree, making the cutter replace the tree, or going to court to recover costs.

The item was referred back to the parks and rec committee concerning significant trees and the amount of the fine, but the referral was opposed by Bowen, Forrest and Coun. Greg Moore.

posted on 03/07/2005

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