Tuesday December 20, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
UPDATE later on DEC 20: Bylaw 2115 was approved, along with Bylaw 2116 to allow enforcement and penalties. [Further link to come]
Cutting down trees in Langford is only possible under new conditions, which are in place for six months.
During the December 19, 2022 Special Council Meeting, City of Langford Council approved the first three readings of Bylaw 2115 – A Bylaw to Prohibit Tree Cutting in Langford, and Bylaw 2116 – An amending Bylaw to the Ticket Information Authorization Bylaw to enable staff to impose related fines.
Bylaw 2115 is being implemented as a direct response to multiple property owners who have removed trees without seeking the required approvals – trees which may have been retained through existing City processes.
The City of Langford says that Bylaw 2115 is a temporary measure intended to prevent the unnecessary cutting and removal of trees until Council can review, consult with the public, and adopt a comprehensive tree management strategy.
With this in mind, Bylaw 2115 includes a sunset clause of six months, which provides clarity that these restrictions are temporary in nature. The bylaw adoption will be considered at a Special Council Meeting on Wednesday December 21 at 2:30 pm, including the opportunity for public input.
City Councillor Keith Yacucha said on Twitter last night that he does have concerns about the timing of public participation on this, being so close to Christmas weekend and many families away on winter break — perhaps not a lot of opportunities for people to take part.
If approved, the bylaw will take effect immediately and will apply to all property in Langford.
Response to public input:
“Council has heard from the public that too many trees are coming down due to development. This bylaw will allow Council time to review all options and consult with the public,” said Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson in a news release today.
“This bylaw implementation is the direct result of some property owners not adhering to the existing process around tree removal in Langford. It is unfortunate that Council had to bring this bylaw in to place to respond to multiple property owners who have acted outside of the existing development process that allows for the removal of trees,” he said.
“Those actions resulted in the need for this bylaw to be implemented so that the system is respected and adhered to,” said Goodmanson who became new to the mayoral job just two months ago.
No additional cost:
The City explains that the implementation of the bylaw does not place additional costs on the property owner, with the exception of dangerous trees, which will require an arborist assessment, as tree cutting and removal will be administered through existing permitting processes.
The implementation of the bylaw does not restrict development, as trees can still be authorized to be cut down and removed through the Development Permit and Building Permit process. Property owners and tree removal companies are strongly urged to contact the City Hall Planning Department with any questions on the bylaw.
Bylaw 2115 prohibits the cutting down of any tree (with a trunk diameter greater than 20 centimeters measured at a height of 1.4 meters above the undisturbed grade of the land), anywhere within Langford, with the exception of:
- Dangerous trees;
- Trees cut down pursuant to provincial legislation;
- Trees cut down by the City in relation to walkways and trails;
- Trees cut down by British Columbia land surveyors during the discharge of their duties;
- Trees authorized to be cut down in accordance with a Development Permit, Building Permit, or any other permit issued by the City; and
- Trees located on properties that are located within a Development Permit Area, but which are excluded from the Development Permit Process.
Bylaws 2115 and 2116 provide for significant financial penalties. Under the Offenses Act and as referenced in in Bylaw 2115, Council can seek financial compensation through the courts of a minimum of $5000 per violation (or per tree). Under the Municipal Ticket Information Bylaw, staff can also impose a fine of $1,000 per violation (or per tree), which is the maximum allowed under that bylaw.
The Special Council Meeting recording of December 19, 2022 can be found on the City website: Council & Committee Meetings – City of Langford.
If property owners wish to remove a tree, they should contact the City of Langford planning department for more information.
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