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Jan 24,2005 - The Now News

Port Coquitlam's draft tree bylaw contentious even before it hits council

By Jennifer Saltman - Staff Reporter

The City of Port Coquitlam parks and recreation committee is sending a draft tree bylaw - that makes it unlawful for anyone to cut a tree without first getting a permit - forward to council, even though it was a split decision by committee members.

"I'm really torn with the whole thing," said deputy chair Coun. Arlene Crowe.

The bylaw, parks and recreation director Barry Becker told the committee, would update the current city tree bylaw, which has been in place since 1993.

He said the main reason for the proposed changes is consistency.

"We're not going to be reinventing the wheel here," Becker said. "We need a fair, consistent approach when dealing with urban lands in the city."

During the review of the draft bylaw, the question of homeowners' rights, compared to the authority of the bylaw, was raised. According to the city solicitor, a report says, the bylaw would supersede the rights of the owners.

The same question came up during committee discussions.

"Sometimes I think the government puts its hand in a little too much," said citizen advisor David Cairns. "That's my first reaction here."

Becker pointed out that there are exceptions to the rule that a tree cutting permit must be obtained for cutting trees on any urban land. He also said there are much more restrictive tree bylaws on the Lower Mainland.

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. A section is added to define trees on city land and what the city's responsibility is.

Becker said if the bylaw is endorsed and adopted by council, a management process for heritage trees would be established, as well as a small educational program to let property owners know the rules.

Fees collected by bylaw officers would go back into planting additional trees, Becker added, saying that the move towards ticketing isn't a cash grab.

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.

posted on 01/24/2005

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