Feb 23,2007 - The Now News
Tree protection bylaw makes cut
By Leneen Robb - Staff Reporter
The City of Coquitlam will go ahead with plans to draft a tree protection bylaw, following a 4-4 vote among council members Monday.
Coun. Richard Stewart started the debate by raising a notice of motion to scrap the planned tree protection bylaw, taking issue with the fact that city staff intends to hire a consultant to do the work because they are busy with other projects.
The real issue among those who came out against the proposed bylaw, however, appeared to be property rights.
"We at the city are meddling too much with people's private property," Coun. Lou Sekora said. "A common sense approach is what I want, not a bunch of red tape _ I'm not against trees - we have to have 'em."
Stewart and Sekora were joined by Couns. Brent Asmundson and Doug Macdonell, who voted to scrap the tree protection plan.
Council narrowly voted to create such a bylaw last year after residents of three neighbourhoods - in the areas of Austin and Sydney avenues, Robinson and Foster streets and along the northern portion of Blue Mountain Street - expressed concerns about tree cutting.
Coun. Fin Donnelly said Monday the city's existing tree cutting permit bylaw is 17 years old and "badly in need of updating."
The old bylaw deals mainly with trees on slopes, and is designed to ensure that cutting does not create a danger with flooding or erosion.
Since the old bylaw was passed, many other Lower Mainland municipalities - including Port Moody, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver - have passed bylaws focused on protecting the trees themselves.
Donnelly said plans to create a new bylaw are not aimed at preventing homeowners from cutting down all trees, but rather at preventing the clearcutting and subsequent replanting of a lot that is home to several mature trees.
"They're saying, 'Let's be reasonable, can we not save a few?'" Donnelly said of residents who have approached the city about updating its bylaw.
Coun. Barrie Lynch said council should give the proposed bylaw a chance before rejecting it, while Coun. Mae Reid said it's time for the bylaw to be drafted because older areas of the city are "ripe for redevelopment."
"We're going to end up with a scalped southwest slope and I think that would be intolerable and unfair," she said.
Asmundson, however, said there's no lack of trees in the city.
"I think sometimes we get our nose too far into people's business," he said. "I don't see where we have had this whole clearcutting of Coquitlam."
Mayor Maxine Wilson said the issue pits residents of established neighbourhoods against those who own acreage and want to maximize their investment.
Both sides, she said, are "quite emotional" about the issue.
"Right now, we have to work with a community that's divided," she said. "It's going to be a difficult process."
published on 02/23/2007