Aug 30,2006 - The Now News

Residents upset over tree cutting

By Brooke Larsen - Staff Reporter

A group of Coquitlam homeowners is calling for a tougher tree protection bylaw after a stand of trees was removed from two forested properties in their neighbourhood.

"There were originally 67 trees on the lot, and the vast majority have been removed," John Bailey said in an interview Tuesday.

Bailey, who lives near 642 Austin Ave. and 637 Sydney Ave., said he'll be raising the issue at a council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

"I'd like to see some rules [about] the cutting down of mature trees," he said, adding that he moved to the neighbourhood eight years ago because it was full of trees.

"If every area of Coquitlam allowed cutting down trees to this degree, the city could be very rapidly changed."

City council and staff have been "very open" to his concerns so far, Bailey said.

City spokesperson Therese Mickelson said council gave the owner preliminary approval to subdivide the properties into four lots, providing that 37 of the trees are replaced.

"We did put a condition on there that if they proceed with subdivision, they need to replant 37 trees," Mickelson said Tuesday.

In April, council shot down a different proposal by the owner, Redtail Ventures, to rezone the properties to allow them to be subdivided into six lots.

A representative from Redtail Ventures did not immediately return The NOW's phone calls.

The city's current tree cutting bylaw only applies to sloped areas or trees that pose a safety risk, Mickelson said.

"The city does have a tree cutting bylaw, but that relates to slope stability and safety _ that's the area in which the city does get involved in having specific tree cutting requirements.

"As a private property owner, he can do what he wants with his private property," she said, adding that the owner is responsible for safety aspects of the tree removal.

Gene Augustine, who lives near the property, said the replacement trees will probably be too small to make a difference.

"What are they? Two feet high? I'll be dead before they have an impact on my property," he said.

Augustine added that he's worried the loss of the trees will change wind patterns, causing his trees to become unstable.

"What I'm concerned about is not so much these nice gentle breezes we're getting now, but the winter winds that come.

"All the trees are supporting each other. You take down 67 trees, you're going to affect the wind pattern," he said, adding that he's not opposed to some of the trees being removed to make way for new homes.

"I'm a realist - the man has to take out a certain number of trees to put a house in, but he doesn't have to clear cut 67 trees."

Coun. Richard Stewart called the removal of the trees a "blow to the neighborhood.

"Half the site is now completely barren. It's a moonscape," Stewart said Tuesday.

"It's a real shame."

published on 08/30/2006