Letter: Brookswood trees deserve preservation bylaw

Dear Editor,

I have to say that I find it ironic that the Township of Langley promoted its 12th Annual Arbour Day celebration as “a free family and community event highlighting the importance of trees and the urban forest in our community” when the Township doesn’t have a bylaw in place to restrict the clear-cutting of the forests they are planning on celebrating.

If you take a drive through the Brookswood / Fernridge area, you will see the results of these clearcuts. Logging trucks are leaving properties in greater numbers than have been previously seen. It’s not a case of someone taking down a tree or two that might be hazardous or in the way of building a workshop on their property.

It’s free-for-all clearing on certain sites, most likely in anticipation of selling off the land for a greater profit to developers.

Even though the proposed OCP was defeated and there is no ability to develop at this time, it seems the speculative land owners are preparing for a payday.

This area holds 47 per cent of the coniferous forest in the Township. With coniferous forest only totally three per cent of the total forest in Langley Township, this is significant.

Looking at the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley there exists a tree bylaw in Delta, Surrey, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, North Vancouver, The District of North Vancouver, Langley City, Port Moody, Anmore… I think you get the picture.

There is nothing in the Township to protect trees in any way. Our mayor and council has noted that the Ministry of the Environment has legislation in place to protect nesting birds, but when asked for help, the MOE stated that they generally do not deal with private land and that it is up to the Township to enforce their bylaws. Which we don’t have.

It’s clear that it is time for a tree bylaw in Langley Township. It needs to be well thought out – a bylaw that allows for minimal tree removal would assist in the preservation of urban forests and prevent clear cutting. It would also hold developers accountable to preserve the maximum number of trees with safety zones around them so that they did not get damaged during construction.

It is up the Township to provide the guidance and guidelines to ensure that our urban forest remains. Most homeowners in the Township do not have plans to clear their land. Most homeowners take care of the trees they have and take pride in them.

A tree bylaw would not affect most of us in any way other than to ensure the preservation of what we have left.

Mr. Roland Sequin [Trees just property, April 22 Letters, Langley Advance] stated that the greatest threat to our urban forests is that they will burst into flame, “exploding like blowtorch firebombs” like they did in Kelowna, and that we might need to take down trees to create firebreaks. I’m not sure where he did his homework, but we don’t have dead, beetle-infested forests in a semi-desert climate. We live in a coastal rainforest.

And removing trees is not like farming, either. Farmers plant, care for, harvest, and replant, continuing the process each season.

Cutting down trees that are not replaced is nothing like that. You cannot replace a 60-year-old tree. At least, not in your lifetime.

And FYI, there is no permit needed, since it’s private land and there is no bylaw.

Fear-mongering is not the way to scare people into protesting a bylaw. Education on the merits of a bylaw and what it would mean to the average home owner would perhaps be a better way to share.

Perhaps he would be better protesting the existing bylaws that don’t allow you to park an RV on your private property, or build a garage or extend a driveway or renovate without a permit.

Unlike Mr. Sequin’s hyperbolic depiction of “relentless tree lobby protesters,” “overzealous activists,” and “anti-progress contrarians,” the people asking for a tree bylaw are ordinary citizens who see that we are not looking forward in time with regards to a finite resource.

The trees clean the aquifer, hold the soil together, provide housing for wildlife, and clean the air, and they have been recognized as such by all of our surrounding communities.

In order to be a progressive Township, it is time to put away the fear-mongering, “lord of the land,” don’t take away my rights attitude, and replace it with an ecologically, socially, and financially sound bylaw.

We need to step into the 21st century and become caretakers of our resources in order to preserve what we have for future generations.

We need to take care of those resources in order to ensure that the Township as a whole thrives in the long run. For those of us who already take care of our trees and their maintenance, is that too much to ask for?

Jacqueline Mandzak, Langley

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