Langley Township council has approved a slightly-altered version of the temporary ban on clear-cutting in Brookswood and Fernridge.
The change sets a two-tree minimum allowable cut, so people with small lots and few trees can avoid a technical violation of the bylaw that bans cutting more than eight trees or 20 per cent of trees on a property, whichever is less.
Councillor Bob Long described the altered version of the bylaw as a “housekeeping update.”
The debate provided an opportunity for bylaw opponents to renew their criticism.
Councillor Grant Ward said creating a clear-cutting ban that only applies to Brookswood and Fernridge effectively renders the people who live there “second-class” citizens, compared to other areas of the Township.
“The people who live in Brookswood-Fernridge are good people,” Ward said.
“They know how to manage their property.”
Councillor Charlie Fox said he would be voting for the update of the already-approved bylaw, but he remains opposed to it in principle and he believes the regulations will be difficult to enforce due to a lack of “24/7” bylaw enforcement officers.
Fox repeated his call for a public hearing process to consult residents about a tree protection bylaw.
“This is a tricky and sensitive issue,” Fox said.
Councillor Steve Ferguson, a supporter of the clear-cutting ban, said he has personally witnessed wholesale clearing of forested lots near his home.
“Yes, indeed, it has happened,” Ferguson said.
The revised bylaw passed with Ward opposed (Councillor Kim Richter, who first proposed a ban, was away).
The interim clear cutting ban also allows trees to be removed if they are blocking sight lines under the Township’s highway and traffic bylaw or for a septic field or water well.
Trees can be cut down for construction of a building if approved by a development permit, development variance permit or building permit issued by the Township.
And they can be removed if they are considered hazardous, as certified by an arborist, or in case of an emergency if certification is provided to the Township engineering department within 30 days after the cutting.
The bylaw will remain in effect until a new official community plan has been prepared for Brookswood/Fernridge or a permanent tree protection bylaw is passed.
The Township has opened a 24-hour tree cutting tip line at 604-532-7520, that asks callers to leave the address where clear-cutting is taking place, along with their name and phone number and time of the call.