A tree protection bylaw is up for consideration at Langley Township council tonight (Langley Advance Times files)

UPDATED: Tree protection bylaw passes first hurdle in Township

Council is set to consider the bylaw Monday night

The public will get a chance to have its say on a tree protection bylaw that could regulate tree cutting on all residential lots in Langley Township.

The Township council unanimously approved the first and second readings of a new Tree Protection Bylaw that, if given final approval, would cover most of the Township.

Councillor Steve Ferguson said he was glad the Township was entering the 21st century and joining its many neighbouring communities that already have tree protection bylaws.

“I’m looking forward to the public hearing coming up,” Ferguson said.

Several ther councillors expressed similar sentiments, with Coun. Eric Woodward noting that the public hearing might allow for some amendments based on public input.

“I’m just a little surprised we would base it on a Richmond bylaw,” said Coun. Bob Long, noting that it might have to be changed a little to meet the needs of a community like the Township, which has quite a few differences from Richmond.

The idea of a tree protection bylaw has been bandied about for years at the council table, but has never really come close to being implemented.

Brookswood has been under a tree protection bylaw since 2014, but most of the Township has had no tree protection, despite most neighbouring cities, including Abbotsford and Surrey, already having such bylaws.

Tree protection bylaw debates at council have often centered around the desire to preserve trees and green space, versus the worry that the bylaw would be too much of a financial or bureaucratic burden on property owners who needed to remove trees.

The proposed bylaw includes a few measures that exempt certain trees.

Trees with a trunk diameter of less than 30 cm measured at 1.4 metres from the ground are exempt from the bylaw.

In addition, property owners would be allowed to remove two trees per lot every two years without paying a fee or submitting an arbourist’s report, though they would still need a permit.

Finally, alder, birch, and cottonwood trees would be excluded from the regulations.

Although based on Richmond’s tree protection bylaw, there have been changes made for local conditions, including the fact that many rural Township residents use wells and septic tanks.

The existing tree protection bylaw that has covered Brookswood since 2014 would be repealed and replaced with this new Township-wide bylaw if it passes.

The public hearing on the bylaw will be held at a future Township council meeting.

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