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July 25,2007 - Tri City News

By Lara Gerrits The Tri-City News

A new tree management bylaw will go before Coquitlam council for ratification in the fall — but do people really care?

Only 17 residents attended an open house last month regarding the proposed new bylaw, which sets out a number of regulations regarding cutting down trees on private property. And only 18 feedback forms or written submissions were received during the city’s public comment period, ending July 6.

“We’re putting a bylaw in where there doesn’t seem to be a problem,” Coun. Brent Asmundson said at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, where councillors received a public feedback report regarding the draft bylaw.

He said perhaps the problem is more politically driven than community driven, and he asked, “Are we creating something just to create something that’s not there?”

But Coun. Fin Donnelly said the issue is a community one as there are “thousands” of individuals concerned about trees.

Under the proposed bylaw, which would include all trees with a diameter more than 20 cm, trees cannot be cut unless under one of the following conditions:

• For lots with less than 40 trees, residents can remove up to two of them per year without a permit.

• For lots with more than 40 trees, residents can remove up to 5% of trees each year without a permit.

• In an emergency, if a tree of limb is in imminent danger of falling and injuring people or property, a tree can be felled without a permit, although a follow-up report from an arbourist may be required.

The majority of residents who provided feedback supported the major components of the draft bylaw. The primary concern cited was related to the number of trees that could be removed each year without a permit, as several people felt a permit should always be needed.

“This way, the city planners can keep track of how many trees a particular property owner has cut this year,” one respondent wrote.

“I do not believe there should be any exemption from city staff involvement in the removal of any tree meeting the measurement requirements specific,” wrote another.

The cost for consultant Gye and Associates Ltd. to prepare the bylaw is $45,595.

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