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LETTER: Langley Township-wide tree bylaw urgency unnecessary

Proposed tree bylaw loaded with insults and burdens to Langley homeowners

Dear Editor,

What is making a Township-wide tree bylaw so urgent at this time?

There seems to be an imagined threat that people will clear-cut the Township unless there is a bylaw to stop them. We should not be overreacting to a few isolated incidences.

Just because other municipalities have overbearing, oppressive bylaws doesn’t mean we should copy them.

Most of the proposed bylaw is too onerous and unreasonable. We believe the majority of homeowners that this bylaw would affect, don’t want it.

Many of us are seniors on fixed incomes, trying to survive on our land. It’s disrespectful to the overtaxed homeowners, as governments take force of their trees while imposing punitive costs.

If you make it too bureaucratically difficult and expensive, it becomes self-defeating, as people won’t take care of their trees, which affects neighbouring properties.

In the 46 years we have lived in Langley Township, we don’t see a concerning loss of trees.

We don’t see a problem in Aldergrove, Fort Langley, Walnut Grove, Murrayville, Brookswood, and places in between. ALR farmland is exempt.

We live in a rainforest, where trees grow two feet per year and the foliage canopy is growing so fast we have to hire more municipal tree maintenance workers.

Many complainers don’t have experience in taking care of private property trees and the heavy expense associated.

Much of the tree removal hype appears to be emanating from Willoughby development, which is in high-density transition.

In all new development projects, there is almost an overplanting of replacement trees.

Traditionally, most people in Langley like their trees, plant new ones, and remove old ones for valid reasons.

Not all tees are worth saving, as they have a limited lifespan. The big conifers in Brookswood have some serious spreading root disease and other problems, enough of a worry without adding extra costs to homeowners.

Wildfire risk… where is the consideration? Where there are large stands of trees near residential areas, there are huge fuel loads and a high risk of spreading wildfire.

With windy conditions, it can quickly jump out of the fire department’s ability to control. There are plenty of such examples in the news.

Thinning of such dense tree stands is a desirable thing that tree bylaws don’t consider.

More government bylaws equals higher taxes. There does not appear to be any cost-benefit consideration for a Township-wide tree bylaw.

Homeowners face loss of work-time costs for the cumbersome permit application process, site plan preparation, hiring arborists, surveyors and tree service contractors. The permitting costs could well exceed the cost of physically removing the tree(s).

Administering the bylaw is labour intensive. More clerical staff, certified arborist for site inspections, more bylaw enforcement officers, wages/benefits/pension, supervision, uniforms, office space, telephones, inspection vehicles, tools, lawyers, etc.

It’s bad enough that we are taking huge unending tax hits from all levels of governments. Overtaxed homeownership is in peril, and yet our governments just keep piling it on. It makes a mockery out of the so called “affordability” issues.

If you insist on going ahead with such a draconian bylaw, the following are problematic:

This bylaw is trying to cover too much from Urban to Rural. There is a significant range of property sizes and the exemptions should accommodate this.

It’s too burdensome and costly to go through the permit application process and hire a tree contractor to take down only one or two trees, each year at a time.

1. Section 2 Definitions… “Tree”means… the Alder, Birch and Cottonwood trees should be moved into the Exemption Section 6 for clarity. Plus suggest include ‘similar scrub trees’ and ‘old fruit trees’.

2. Section 6.2… Suggest be changed to be able to remove trees without a permit, permit fee, and arborist report as follows:

– for parcels up to 1 acre, one tree per year.

– for parcels 1 to 2 acres, two trees per year. (Brookswood/Fernridge exist. bylaw 2017 No. 5301 allows this).

– for parcels over 2 acres, four trees per year. (Brookswood/Fernridge exist bylaw 2017 No. 5301 allows this).

– obviously dead trees (without summer leaves or needles) should not be included in this count.

3. Section 7.3… Requirement to post the permit 72 hours prior to tree removal is uncalled-for. If you take time off work to pick up your permit on Friday, you should be able to work on the trees on the weekend. Suggest scrap the 72 hours part.

4. Section ‘9. Replacement Trees’ For parcels containing a one-family dwelling…. This should be scrapped completely. This is over the top and insulting to homeownership. For the sake of taking down a few trees, it is attempting to treat the homeowner as a developer. The homeowner should have some property right freedom to plant new trees as they wish.

5. Section 13. Tree Cutting or Removal… 13.1.e)… Why is no tree removal activity allowed between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. the following day? Working people should be allowed to work in the evening. The time of work allowed should match the noise bylaw for construction work.

6. Fees and Charges…

Amendment Bylaw 2019 No. 5481… The Fees and Charges are too excessive. Most are relatively minor to very minor process infractions, not life safety issues. The Schedule “A” fines should be cut in half. Examples shown-

– 13.1 (e) – Working between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. the following day… $250. Should be scrapped.

– 13.1 (h) – “Failure to fence all hazards or potential hazards”… $250. What are potential hazards? Almost everything can be a potential hazard. Fencing is expensive.

Amendment Bylaw 2017 No. 5482…

Table… “Permit to remove three or more trees… Administration and inspection costs for permit… $100 per tree. Why per tree? The inspector should be able to inspect more than one tree on the site visit. The fee should just be a flat $100.

In conclusion, we urge council to reconsider and scrap this whole Township wide Tree bylaw idea.

Roland and Lorraine Seguin, Fernridge

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