Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vecchiato's Voice - April 12, 2007 - Brookswood Tree Committee

Last year, five Brookswood and one Fernridge resident agreed to join a task force facilitated by Kurt Houlden and attended by Councillor Vickberg. The task force was based on a delegation by residents who shared a significant stand of trees with neighboring lots where a new owner (absentee) cleared the entire lot. Arboreal assessments were made by a professional and the consensus was that if the stumps were pulled up, it would negatively impact all the adjacent properties.

When the committee met, Mr. Houlden gave us a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no township intervention and 10 being a strict by law. The 6 members, ranged from 2 to 9, with an average of 6.5%. This would require a lenient bylaw without permits and an education program to make residents aware of the impact they had on one another's property.

The conclusion reached by the group was to have a bylaw which echoed building codes and setback, thus disallowing clearing within 10 feet of the fence line. If clearing was done, then the stumps would have to be ground, not pulled, in order to keep roots beneath the ground. Many roots are supporting septic fields as well as other trees.

This committee and Mr. Houlden's facilitation allowed for a wide range of input, but never were permits discussed, and the only property mentioned in the proposal was the 10 foot perimeter. I also suggested that the decimation of our avian population be addressed as frequent clearing of a single parcel in the nesting season has led to noticeable species decline in the area.

Upon receiving the final version which was presented at the Open House, I was surprised to see a proposed by law that would not be suitable for the Brookswood community. The consensus reached was based on safety and the negative impact clearing has on a neighboring lot.

Please note in today Times, the editor says that "a bylaw..will pit neighbors at each other's throats." In truth, those of us who value the nature of habitat and understand the provincial and federal nesting bird legislation have endured countless clearings. The impact has been the disappearance of many species, the dislocation of flying squirrels and owls, and a decline in the songbird and pileanted woodpecker population.

A permit to remove problem trees that have gone into foundations or septic fields should not be in place, and was never approved by the committee. the bylaw submitted to the public has caused unnecessary strife among residents. The need for a permit was mentioned, but please note that in Maple Ridge and Saanich, residents may remove 3 trees per year without a permit. This leniency is on the honour system. Punitive measures would be a result of not following protocol of neighbor consultation or maintaining a 10' set back.

Future development should be a concern and should be considered as 1/4 acre lots are being purchased by development interests. Observers have noted that there is a lack of balance in allowing Willoughby to be cleared with impunity, while Brookswood residents are held accountable. In truth, Township should be looking at the big picture of the Fraser Valley. With the potential advent of Deltaport expansion, according to "Gateway to Global Warming," "the emission from marine vessels .... have already iincreased 205 wsince 2000...A single container ship belches more pollution than l,000 diesel trucks." While lip service may be give to global warming and the airshed of the Fraser Valley, each community has to be accountable to its residents now and in the future. If steps are made to ensure that Brookswood will not be razed as Willoughby, then we can be assured that the form and character echo Brookswood's current ambience and environmnetal integrity, the reason many property owners bought here

Cathleen Vecchiato
Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for the past 6 years. She is a very well recognized champion of the environment and a community activist in Langley as well as in other adjoining communities. Cathleen formed and leads the Langley Conservation Network. Editor-LFP ...

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