Anyone who attends, or presents a delegation to Langley Township council, as I did this past Monday April 9, knows that the council is frequently split on many issues.
What did surprise me, however, was the lack of basic knowledge demonstrated by Councillors [Michelle] Sparrow, [Angie] Quaale, and [Blair] Whitmarsh, following Councillor [Petrina] Arnason’s motion to implement an interim tree protection bylaw.
As Coun. Quaale put it: “there’s a lot of confusion.” Yes, sadly, there sure is.
Brian Cameron’s letter [No reason for council to block tree protection, April 10 online letter, Langley Advance] provided a smart overview of the absurd discussion that followed.
A number of councillors remarked that the issue of tree conservation in the Township is a divisive one. Why then, wouldn’t council members and staff educate themselves in the basics of what a tree protection bylaw usually consists of or is intended to do?
If councillors took a quick look at any one of the 16 municipalities within Metro Vancouver that do have a tree protection bylaw, they might be able to make more informed decisions.
Sparrow is in her second term on council, and apparently in the last seven and a half years hasn’t had an hour to spend doing some research on the topic.
The comments from council did nothing to resolve anything, but added to the misconceptions and factual errors around tree protection bylaws.
Often staff will interject for clarification purposes if a council member appears to be misinformed. Unfortunately, this was not the case for this particular discussion.
The idea that tree protection will prevent a person from building on their property is false.
The idea that a protection bylaw doesn’t cover clear cutting is absurd.
It would cover trees, which is the point of it.
The idea put forth that a bylaw wouldn’t stop clear cutting but is set up to prevent families from putting up a swing set is incorrect.
The notion that a bylaw would only allow homeowners to remove a tree that is dead or a “hazard” is mistaken.
All of these points are covered clearly in the “interim tree bylaw” that was being discussed.
Most importantly, the idea being put forth that those of us who are concerned about environmental sustainability are somehow “anti-farming” is absurd and wrong.
The real political conversation is not to debate facts, but to debate the ways to solve the problem. Denial delays solutions.
Township citizens rely on mayor and council to make informed, long-term decisions to the benefit of all us all, not to make critical decisions using alternative facts.
Catherine Grey, Langley