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Dec. 16, 2018 | Sunday
Local News
Letter to the editor: Tree protection should be for new development
File photo.

SUBMITTED BY BUDDY ANDRES.
OPINION

It was very interesting to note that once our election signs were removed from our roadsides, they were immediately replaced with signs stating the following: “My trees don’t need a bylaw.”

Frankly, as a member of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Tree Committee I was happy to see them. It illustrates to some degree that there is an appreciation for trees. But sadly I have seen too many cases where the appreciation for trees is completely ignored.

Let me cite some examples.

A developer purchased an older home, demolished it, and immediately severed this parcel of land into two lots. He then proceeded to remove the only two trees on the property — a century-old oak, and a smaller spruce tree — both outside the footprint of the two new houses to be constructed.

Neighbours pleaded to save the trees. Once the houses were built, they were advertised “as being located on a quiet tree-lined street.” The hypocrisy is stifling.

In another case, a new home owner to our town proceeded to remove the only two healthy trees in their backyard. When neighbours inquired about the reason for this destruction, they were rudely ushered off of the property.

In another situation, a developer removed all of the evergreen trees prior to construction, and then had the gall to name the development after the very same trees that he destroyed.

And of course, the sad saga presently playing out at the Randwood Estate is truly discouraging.

I certainly understand the resistance to another by-law that would appear to intrude on the privacy of one’s property. However, I would hope that this by-law would be tailored in such a way, as not to become too cumbersome.

For instance, I would certainly recommend an exemption for the agricultural community. Certain tree sizes and species could be exempt from the by-law, however, native trees and trees that have a distinct heritage value should be protected. Trees provide incalculable benefits for any community, and must be protected at all costs.

Here is my challenge to our new council:

At the very least, develop a strong tree preservation policy that targets all new development. All present efforts at tree preservation with new development have been totally  ineffective and inadequate. My recommendation would be that absolutely no activity be allowed on any future development lands without a comprehensive arborist’s report.

In addition, every building permit application, no matter how large or small, should trigger an immediate investigation regarding the impact on existing trees. Let us all become better stewards of our fragile environment.

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