Letter: Brookswood tree protection bylaw discouraging trees

Dear Editor,

A number of years ago, a Brookswood tree-cutting bylaw was proposed, and was rejected. Now it has been resurrected.

I live in South Langley on 2½ acres, and I work in Brookswood. I have a forest around my house and trees around my office, on and off the property.

Over the years, some of the trees have grown large and have required topping, trimming and cutting. It has been done selectively and with some expense.

I cannot imagine adding another layer of bureaucracy requiring an arborist’s opinion, and then a permit for every tree of decent size that must be tackled.

Right now, I have chosen to keep the trees on my property because they provide a home for wildlife and provide wind and sun protection.

My neighbours also have large trees on their property, and have also selectively trimmed and cut down trees to increase the usability of their property, improve views, and bring in more sunshine.

Most citizens of Brookswood do not want to clear-cut their land, but they would like to have the freedom to cut down, top, or trim trees, to be able to enjoy their property.

Trees on a lot belong to the landowner, who can chose to do with them what they like. A person who has a big tree that is dropping needles in their gutters and is blocking sunshine from their windows and flowerbeds should not be expected to keep that tree because their neighbour wants shade.

Maybe the Township should have the neighbour who wants the shade pay a substantial rental fee to the tree owner, to partially offset the extra cleanup and lack of sunshine.

Also, the owner of such a tree should be expected to receive a large property tax credit from the Township for the benefit provided to the community.

Perhaps there would also be an extra tax against people who don’t have mature trees.

That, of course, would create even more bureaucracy and pit neighbour against neighbour.

The proposed bylaw will certainly discourage property owners from growing large trees. Anyone who realizes that they will not have control over their trees in the future will either avoid planting them or will make sure they cut down their trees before they get to the size that the bylaw specifies.

I notice that the proposed bylaw has already backfired, even though it has not been passed, as developers along 200th Street have clear-cut many properties in the past few months.

Those of us who like to keep a reasonable number of trees, meanwhile, are wondering how many hundreds of dollars and reams of paperwork it could take to maintain our trees in the future.

It seems that there are a vocal few who are trying, once again, to gain control over their neighbours’ property. They are creating the impression of a problem that doesn’t exist.

Most people in Brookswood do not want to cut down their trees – so why is this idea coming up again?

This bylaw is a really bad idea: more bureaucracy, more fees, less autonomy. It’s not what I voted for.

Kim Stepney, Langley

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