Council votes no to preserving trees for Brookswood and Langley

A tree preservation bylaw, for Brookswood or Langley as a whole, was canned in a seven to two vote on April 14 by the Langley Township council.

An interim tree preservation bylaw was put forward by Councillor Kim Richter in the wake of the controversy over the planned Brookswood Official Community Plan.

After a majority of council voted against the OCP, there seemed to be some support for looking at the tree protection issue again.

The updated community plan drew a great deal of opposition from many in the neighbourhood. One of the major reasons for opposition was that residents feared that development and increased density would result in a large number of trees being cut down. 

Richter called for both an interim rule to reduce clearcutting of trees and for a more substantial tree protection bylaw to follow.

Tree protection bylaws for Brookswood have been proposed several times in the past but have always been rejected by the Township council. In many cases, there have been fears that by discussing the bylaw, they were actually inadvertently encouraging clearcutting of wooded lots as property owners rushed to remove trees before it became more onerous.

On April 14, the Township council again said no to banning tree cutting.

The interim rule and a request to create a full bylaw were both defeated in five to four readings, with Mayor Jack Froese and Councillors Bev Dornan, Charlie Fox, Bob Long and Grant Ward all opposed.

Richter had attempted to send the tree protection bylaw back to staff for review and to develop a more complete timeline, but that plan was also defeated before the full bylaw was defeated.

A number of wooded properties in Brookswood and Fernridge have been logged either fully or partially over the past few weeks, with much of the tree cutting starting before the vote on April 14.

It is unclear if provincial rules could put a stop to some tree cutting.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources responded to a request from the Langley Advance for information about land clearing.

A spokesperson wrote that “the province doesn’t specifically regulate the cutting of trees on private property.”

There are rules in place, though.

“However, Section 34 of the Wildlife Act protects occupied bird’s nests,” said the ministry. “Holding off on tree removal activities during the breeding season (ministry staff generally suggest avoiding land-clearing between the start of March and the end of August) or having a qualified professional undertake a nest survey are best practices the ministry strongly promotes and encourages to avoid contravening the Wildlife Act.”

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