Alex Browne photo The felling of two mature Douglas Fir ‘eagle trees’ on Oxford Street, just south of Prospect Avenue, in June of 2019, prompted a review of tree management bylaws and policies now before White Rock council. The trees were felled on instructions from City of White Rock staff, who said the work was necessary because they had become hazardous. (File photo)

Alex Browne photo The felling of two mature Douglas Fir ‘eagle trees’ on Oxford Street, just south of Prospect Avenue, in June of 2019, prompted a review of tree management bylaws and policies now before White Rock council. The trees were felled on instructions from City of White Rock staff, who said the work was necessary because they had become hazardous. (File photo)

City of White Rock mulls ‘tree protection’ bylaw

More stringent measures needed to protect canopy – councillor

White Rock is taking a look at creating a stringent new bylaw designed to protect the city’s tree canopy.

A draft tree protection bylaw – prepared to incorporate recommendations of the city’s environmental advisory committee – came before council during its Feb. 22 online meeting.

Coun. Erika Johanson, the council representative on the committee, explained that the recommendations in the draft bylaw, which – if adopted – would replace the city’s current tree bylaw, are an attempt to address what has been a “serious decline in White Rock’s tree canopy over the last two decades.”

There is a need, she said, to remedy a decision-making process and city policies that have allowed private property owners and developers – and even city contractors – to extensively prune trees or remove them entirely, without direct consultation with council.

READ ALSO: Tree clearing in uptown White Rock surprises, angers

The overriding purpose of the recommendations, she said, is “to protect trees – rather than just manage the way in which they may be removed.”

Council unanimously endorsed a motion to refer half of the recommendations to the government and legislation committee.

These include reducing the minimum size for a protected tree; establishing a definition of ‘significant trees’ on private or city lands; removing fruit trees, alders and cottonwoods from a definition of ‘lower value’ trees; and enlarging the use of tree replacement security and deposit charges.

Also referred to the governance and legislation committee are measures requiring 14 days’ notice of removal of a city tree to property owners within 100 metres; establishing International Society of Arboriculture certification as the qualifying criteria for arborists; requiring city arborists to visit all sites under consideration for a tree permit, establishing explicit criteria for granting permits; requiring any removal or planting of trees on city lands to be done by city staff or contractors, and changing city policy language and limiting the criteria under which trees could be pruned, thinned or reduced in width in cases where it can be demonstrated that the tree has grown to completely obscure a previously existing view.

Council also approved a motion to refer the other half of the recommendations to city staff for a report on ways in which such policy changes can be put into effect – including suggestions that would give tree preservation and canopy enhancement more priority in zoning and planning regulations; setting canopy recovery targets, maintaining records of contractors who have contravened city bylaws; and establishing annual tree canopy reports to council.

Johanson explained the move to create a new bylaw, and revise city tree policy, was directly inspired by the felling of two 100-foot Douglas Fir trees on Oxford Street in June of 2019.

READ ALSO: ‘Eagle trees’ on White Rock’s Oxford Street felled Thursday

“Council was only notified after the work had started,” she said – which raised concerns among the current members (a majority of whom, like herself, had been first elected the previous October).

“Council raised questions about the process of tree management decision-making – specifically that council needs to be consulted before removing trees,” Johanson said.

As a result, she said, the governance and legislation committee referred the tree management bylaw governing private property, and the tree management policy regulating trees on city lands, to the environmental advisory committee.

A thorough review has resulted in 19 concrete recommendations, she said, which are now included in the draft bylaw.

One of the most important findings of the committee, she said, is recognition that most of the city’s tree canopy loss is a result of private development.

“The challenge of protecting trees cannot be met by bylaw and policy alone. We need to look, perhaps, above all at GPA guidelines, zoning regulations and their related policies.”

Johanson said the EAC also recommends “clearer and stronger statements of purpose” in zoning and development permit applications so that tree protection is evaluated in the same way as environmental impacts.



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of White Rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

A simulation lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital has been helping healthcare professionals train during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Memorial Hospital’s simulation lab trains professionals during COVID-19 pandemic

Surrey Hospitals Foundation contributing $100K toward new technologies

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Dr. Bonnie Henry says Surrey immunization targeted at neighbourhoods most at risk

‘What we’ve been looking at is the case rates by neighbourhood,’ provincial health officer says

A horse and driver cruise around the track at Fraser Downs in Cloverdale Sept. 14, 2020 amid smoke from U.S. forest fires. Harness Racing B.C. announced it’s halting the spring season two weeks early because of a lack of money and says racing won’t continue in September without and influx of cash. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Harness racing suspended at Fraser Downs

Spring season ends early, 135 workers out of jobs

Delta police are asking for the public’s help in locating 80-year-old Bob Stout, who police believe went missing from his Tsawwassen home between 1 and 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 16. (Delta Police Department/submitted photos)
UPDATE: Missing senior found safe

Police think Bob Stout, 80, went missing from his Tsawwassen home between 1 to 8:30 a.m. April 16

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
‘Stereotypes’ not an issue in Langley sex assault ruling, Court of Appeal says

The Court of Appeal upheld a conviction in two attacks on a 17-year-old

Most Read