LETTER: Trees need protecting now – not 2019

Michelle Connerty fears delaying a Langley-wide tree protection bylaw causes irreversible damage.

Dear Editor,

We moved to Brookswood in 2011 and I became involved in local politics in 2014 when the “Leave Brookswood Alone” campaign – headed by Anna R and David Chambers, came to my attention.

I did not pay attention to the details around the interim tree clear cutting bylaw (No. 5071) for Brookswood-Fernridge when it was passed in 2014. However, when I heard about it I believed it was the right thing to do.

Many of you know I posted on Facebook last week about trees coming down on a lot at 40th Avenue at 204th Street in Brookswood.

The owner has applied to build a new house. There were 10 large trees – I would call them “significant,” eight of which were on the perimeter of the property and two were in the centre.

I did call the Township of Langley municipal hall to discuss whether or not this lot was covered by the 2017 Brookswood-Fernridge tree protection bylaw (No. 5301 – passed in November 2017).

I was informed by the Township engineering director Ramin Sefi that the lot was not included in the bylaw, that the bylaw only covered the “undeveloped” areas of the Brookswood-Fernridge neighbourhood.

At this point, I assumed that bylaw No. 5071 covered the same areas.

I then had a call from a bylaw officer, who informed me of the same thing, this lot is not covered by the new bylaw. However, prior to the new bylaw being passed (November 2017) it would have been.

I heard it, but did not fully comprehend what she had told me.

I thought about things for a couple of days and called back for clarification.

Sure enough, bylaw No. 5071 covered the entire Brookswood-Fernridge area – developed and undeveloped, and the final bylaw (No. 5301) only covers the undeveloped areas.

This was not explained to council by TOL staff – it was never discussed at council meetings, and I – as a citizen – am confused as to why an interim bylaw would have more coverage and “teeth” than a final bylaw?

To not openly acknowledge or display this discrepancy shows complicity and is inherently devious.

It again begs the question: Why split the area into two distinct areas if not for this type of action?

I hereby request that this mayor and council put an immediate interim tree clear cutting bylaw in place covering the entire Township of Langley – until such time as a comprehensive Township-wide tree bylaw can be formed and implemented to protect our tree canopies.

This cannot wait – the damage cannot be undone.

I, as a tax-paying citizen of Langley, demand that this mayor and council do something immediately to prevent thousands of trees that cannot and probably will not be replaced, from coming down in the next few months.

Earlier this week, I noticed in Monday’s regular TOL Afternoon meeting agenda that Councillor Charlie Fox was putting forward the following motion:

I. 1 Tree Protection Bylaw

Recommendation: Whereas at the council meeting of March 5, 2018 Ms. Hanae Sakurai made a delegation to Council regarding the need for a tree protection bylaw in the Township;

Whereas the council work plan for the 2018 calendar and budget year has been determined as per the last council priority planning session facilitated by Mr. Gordon McIntosh; and

Whereas staff is fully engaged in fulfilling the expectations of that work plan on top of their day-to-day project workload, and further that budget and staff funding would be necessary to form and carry out the work of the standing committee and any recommendations that were derived from their recommendations;

Therefore be it resolved that the recommendation of the formation of a standing committee to review a tree protection bylaw for the Township of Langley be put as an item of consideration on the agenda of the council planning andpriority workshop of the new term of office for those elected to council on October 20th; and further

Be it resolved that any recommendations requiring additional funds (materials or staffing positions) be a part of the 2019 budget cycle discussion.

Charlie Fox wants to put off any action on this issue until 2019! This is simply not good enough or soon enough!

Michelle Connerty, Langley

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