It turns out Lantzville council doesn’t need a report on how residents feel about a potential tree cutting bylaw.
Lantzville council, during a meeting on July 22, voted 4-1 against asking staff for a report addressing concerns raised by residents about a proposed tree-cutting bylaw, which would have protected trees in 11 development permit areas throughout the district and was defeated by council on July 8.
During Monday’s meeting, Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain said it appeared that the information provided to council during the July 8 meeting may not be “reflective” of what is in the tree bylaw based on his conversations with staff following the meeting. He said the intent of the report is to ensure councillors have all the information they need to make a decision.
“This is just about trying to give council good information when making decisions,” he said.
While Swain acknowledged that the proposed bylaw does need “some” work, he explained that it is meant to be a mechanism to fine people who are cutting down trees that “they shouldn’t be cutting down.” He said right now there is nothing stopping residents from cutting down a tree on a steep slope and the district has no ability to issue a fine to those who do.
“What this proposed bylaw does, is per tree, it is $500. That might deter people from cutting down trees on steep slopes,” he said.
But according to Coun. Will Geselbracht, Lantzville doesn’t have a problem with trees and never has.
“We’ve never had a problem with trees, or the removal of trees in Lantzville, except for one exception, and that is when [a developer] cleared certain areas in preparation for development and there was a certain vocal minority that got their knickers in a knot over that one, but that was it,” he said. “I’ve never heard of anybody complaining about my neighbour taking down a tree, in fact, the opposite seems to be true.”
Geselbracht said if illegal tree cutting occurs on either district-owned or private property there are legal avenues for staff and residents to pursue, adding that a report and bylaw on the matter isn’t needed.
“To start proposing bylaws when there is no reason to, if there is not a problem why would we try to fix it? So, I can’t support any further direction to staff. I think staff is busy enough as we’ve heard time and again,” he said.
Coun. Ian Savage concurred with Geselbracht’s comments, adding that if councillors want to bring the issue up in the future regarding specific areas within Lantzville, they can.
Meanwhile, Coun. Jamie Wilson said he doesn’t need a report outlining concerns raised by the public during a meeting, adding that he is aware of the concerns. He said if council is to consider such a bylaw in the future, it should cover the entire district and not just pockets of the community.
“For me, I think if we are to look at a serious tree bylaw, it needs to be a more fulsome bylaw that incorporates all of Lantzville, instead of just singling out areas that are destined for development, but I don’t need a report from staff to explain the concerns raised.”
Mayor Swain was the only member of council to vote in favour of receiving a report.
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