When people see the development that is occurring in some parts of Langley, they see the clearing of land and removal of trees.
Because of this, some communities like the City of Langley tried to impose a blanket ban on the removal of trees except for in some very limited situation. For example, if a tree was unhealthy, a property owner would have to have an arborist certificate that a tree was unhealthy, then go to City Hall to apply for a permit to remove the tree.
The unintended consequence of the proposed bylaw was the mass removal of trees in the City. The bylaw never passed, and the City lost many trees that would have otherwise never been removed.
The proposed bylaw was a solution to a problem that didn’t exist in the City; people were not clear-cutting trees in the City.
Currently in the Township of Langley, tree protection is part of the development process. When land is cleared, significant trees cannot generally be removed. A tree replacement program must also be approved by the Township and implemented by the developer. You can read more information about this in Schedule I of the Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw. If a land owner is found to be non-compliant with the bylaw, the Township can require additional replacement trees be planted, fine a land owner, or even revoke a development application.
Because of the uproar around development in Brookswood last year, the Township adopted a bylaw which prohibits clear-cutting in that community.
Last month, Beedie Development Group clear-cut 108 trees on their land in Gloucester. They were fined $37,800.
It was likely because of this that Township Councillor Petrina Arnason put forward a motion to have staff work on a new “Township-wide comprehensive tree protection policy”.
I care about the preservation of trees in our communities. If the Township moved forward with a blanket tree protection bylaw, the results would be similar to the City of Langley. Land owners would panic and there would be a mass culling of trees.
Does the Township of Langley need a comprehensive tree protection bylaw? It seems like the current system to protect trees in the Township is working.