No to temporary tree protection in Langley Township

Council voted down a plan for interim rules to prevent clearcutting lots.

Tree protection will have to wait in Langley Township, as council voted down a plan for an interim bylaw at Monday night’s meeting.

Councillor Petrina Arnason’s motion was intended to bridge the gap to a planned long-term permanent tree protection bylaw, like the ones in Langley’s neighbours Abbotsford and Surrey.

But the motion failed on a four-to-four tie vote, with one councillor away.

Arnason had hoped to use a previous temporary Brookswood tree protection bylaw, with minor changes, to cover the whole Township.

Arnason said the intent of a tree protection bylaw is not to micromanage property owners who want to cut down one or two trees, but to prevent wholesale clearing of land.

When properties are up for development, the Township has rules and even incentives in some areas for developers to keep significant trees.

But there have been accusations of landowners clearcutting their lands before they go to the development process to avoid having to deal with those rules.

Several councillors noted that there is a danger in even discussing a tree protection bylaw.

“As soon as you start talking about it, chainsaws start revving up,” said Coun. Bob Long.

That’s why Arnason wanted to get an interim bylaw in place as soon as possible.

“The more there’s a time lag, in fact, we’re creating more peril for the trees,” she said.

But some councillors worried the rules would be onerous for ordinary residents, or that a full bylaw should be implemented.

“It needs a more fulsome discussion than an interim bylaw,” said Mayor Jack Froese.

Coun. Michelle Sparrow worried about how such a bylaw could be enforced with just four Township bylaw officers.

Long noted that other communities seem to get along fine with tree protection rules.

“Our neighbours have existing tree bylaws,” he said.

The council is still planning to work towards a permanent tree protection bylaw, though it’s uncertain when it would come into force.

Any bylaw would not affect tree cutting for farming purposes in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

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