Ware Road in Lantzville following tree cutting. (News Bulletin file)

Lantzville councillors reject tree-cutting bylaw

Members of district council say bylaw’s language too vague

A proposed bylaw regulating the removal of trees in Lantzville failed to make the cut.

Lantzville councillors, during meeting Monday, voted unanimously against giving the first three readings of a proposed tree-cutting bylaw that would have protected trees in 11 development permit areas throughout the district.

The proposed bylaw, which comes months after clear-cutting on various properties in Lantzville, would have required homeowners to obtain a permit from the district’s community planner in order to cut down a tree provided their property was located within a development permit area.

The bylaw would not apply to trees on Crown land, dangerous trees or well as trees identified by the province as having diseases or pest infestations, according to a staff report.

Kyle Young, the district’s community planner, told councillors the bylaw would provide staff with a mechanism to fine people who remove trees in development permit areas without obtaining permission first.

Coun. Will Geselbracht said the bylaw is very unclear.

“What is a tree? It is not defined,” he said. “Is my fig tree a tree? What about the suckers it sends up right next to it as they get to be two to three feet tall, are those trees? If I’m in a development permit area do I need to come to the director of planning and get a permit to have those taken down? What about trees that self-seed themselves? We’ve got many of them.”

Geselbracht also expressed concerns about staff time. He said staff are already overloaded and that the community planner shouldn’t be spending his time approving tree cutting requests from residents.

“We have one planner … is he going to be sitting there day after day when Johnny, Bill and Tim come in asking for permission to cut down a tree and asking him to look at an arbourist report? Well, I’m sorry, I’d rather have our planner working one development rather than the trees.”

Coun. Karen Proctor said the bylaw needs more work and could provide incentives to residents to plant more trees.

“I also find that the bylaw, in general, is vague and I have a really hard time understanding it and I’ve tried very hard to,” Proctor said.

Coun. Jamie Wilson echoed Proctor’s comments, telling council that the bylaw needs to be more descriptive and information about height and diameter should be included.

“I just think more work needs to be put towards [the bylaw],” Wilson said.

Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain said he felt the bylaw was needed and gives the district “some teeth” to retain trees in the community. He said the intent of the bylaw is to prevent situations like the one on Ware Road, where all the trees were cut down by the developer.

“It would be nice for us to have some input into what is retained and what is not,” he said.

However, Swain also said it was clear the bylaw needed “some work” and that he would like to see the matter discussed by councillors in the future.

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