Cheryl Moore, George Otty Senior and George Otty are among a group of Fort Langley residents who are upset with the rate that large trees are being taken down in their neighbourhood. They are now taking their case to council, after seven large trees were taken down at this empty house on Trattle Street and 88 Avenue last week. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

Fort Langley residents campaign for Township-wide tree bylaw

Recent loss of seven mature trees from one lot sparks neighbours to take tree protection to council

Brookswood-Fernridge residents aren’t the only people in the Township who want to protect their trees.

A group in Fort Langley is lobbying for a Township-wide tree bylaw, after watching numerous significant trees come down in their neighbourhood over the last few months, including seven removed from a property on the corner of Trattle Street and 88 Avenue last week.

These particular trees, which ranged from a copper beech to a maple and an oak, were located on the perimeter of the property beside a vacant home, with some on a Township escarpment.

“I went to work in the morning and came home and just freaked,” said Cheryl Moore, a Fort Langley resident of 14 years.

“And the sad thing is, too, the way this lot was laid out, all these trees could have stood for years and built a beautiful home. There’s just no reason.”

“That oak tree had to be 100 years old,” added George Otty, a 23-year resident.

“It just seems that Fort Langley, which is kind of a heritage town and has a heritage conservation area that envelopes the downtown core, is allowing the oldest trees to be (cut down).”

Moore is a professional landscape designer who often works on high-end projects in Vancouver and Burnaby. She said she is troubled by the lack of restrictions on mature trees in the Township.

Currently, the Township only has a tree bylaw for the Brookswood-Fernridge area, and has no measures against tree cutting on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve. There are, however, provisions in the subdivision and development servicing bylaw for land where a development application has been submitted.

“We look at our skyline, the whole community is tied together with these beautiful trees,” Moore said.

“We have these separate communities that almost need to be treated on an individual basis, and yet, tie the whole thing together with some kind of tree bylaw … It is cumbersome on big acreages, however big acreages are likely not going to be the problem unless they’re going to be developed.”

Another resident, Tara Hawkins, said she tried to contact the Township’s bylaw officers as these seven trees were being taken down, but had difficulty getting in touch with anyone. When a bylaw officer did stop by in the evening, she was told that they likely could have stopped the copper beech from being cut, had they been called in earlier. Hawkins wrote a letter to Township council on July 6 asking that something be done about it.

“The oak tree is situated on the easement, directly beside the (TransMountain) gas line, so there’s no way that the owner can build in its spot. The copper beech is right on the corner, basically straddling Township land, so again the owner cannot build there. So basically these two gorgeous trees were cut down for convenience in building a new home,” she said in her letter.

“… These trees are beautiful and make the areas around them seem more inviting. Now the corner just looks horrid and no amount of landscaping will bring back that feel. I’ve spoken with many other residents of Fort Langley who also were horrified by the destruction of these beautiful trees.”

Following that letter, at the July 10 Township council meeting, Coun. Kim Richter presented a notice of motion to have the Brookswood-Fernridge tree bylaw extended to cover the entire Township.