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Feb 22,2006 -Now News SURREY

Council will protect trees

Ted Colley

A tough new tree-protection bylaw will be approved by Surrey council next month.

The bylaw will see the appointment of a tree administrator, more arborists on city staff and a host of other regulations intended to halt the wholesale cutting of trees that has become commonplace in the city.

Revising Surrey's tree bylaw became a hot-button issue last year after it was learned more than 50,000 trees had been cut in the city over the past four years due to rapid development.

New rules will see an independent arborist double-checking the work of colleagues supporting tree-cutting applications to prevent collusion between arborists, developers and tree services. The cost of the independent review will be charged back to the developer.

Once the ordinance becomes law, a fee of $300 will be payable for every tree cut, permits must be posted on any site where trees will be removed, stiffer fines for violations will be imposed and tree topping will be restricted.

The bylaw will also require a restrictive covenant forbidding development for 10 years on agricultural land outside the ALR cleared for agricultural purposes.

The bylaw recommends using the city's $500,000 Green City fund to pay for the planting of boulevard trees in Surrey.

City staff also recommended waiving variance fees if the variance is requested in order to save trees on a development site.

Staff recommended exempting development applications already submitted to city hall from the new regulations for 18 months. Coun. Judy Villeneuve said that was too long and persuaded council to reduce the exemption to 12 months.

Villeneuve said she was pleased with the proposed bylaw.

"It's encouraging to see we're looking at important issues in the city and not just simply advancing development applications," she said.

Jake Friesen, vice-president of Surrey-based Qualico Development, said he hadn't seen the proposed bylaw and couldn't comment on how it might affect the industry.

published on 02/22/2006

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