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Niagara Falls
Friday, April 19, 2024
Council passes tree bylaw for all five urban areas of NOTL

The new Niagara-on-the-Lake council didn’t waste any time getting a new bylaw put in place to protect a long list of tree species in all five urban areas of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The motion, moved by Coun. Norm Arsenault and seconded by Coun. Al Bisback, went into effect immediately Wednesday afternoon and prevents private property owners from removing trees without a permit.

“I think, in listening to the solicitor, we want to make sure our bylaw has teeth,” said CAO Holly Dowd, addressing council members. “So what I would like, or what I would put forward is in order for us to get a bylaw approved today, let’s go with the version in front of you. I’ll give you until Friday, if that’s enough time, if you have any suggested changes that you’d like to provide to me, and I will put that together, and this bylaw, forward it to our solicitor for him to review the version and bring us back something that has teeth if this one doesn’t — maybe it does.”

She said she thinks the solicitor could be able to put forward a list of any required amendments before council by Dec. 17.

Arsenault told Larmour he would like staff expertise on which trees should be included as weeds or nuisance trees.

Larmour said part of the problem with moving forward with the bylaw is the town doesn’t have a dedicated arborist to provide such expertise, and without investment such a service, it would comes down to the individual case. For example, he said, a neighbour could claim a tree is a problem tree because it is dropping walnuts on their vehicles, he said, and without an arborist on call, staff would need to make the decision.

“If council passes the bylaw without providing the additional resources, we’re just going to have to go with whatever we can on the day that we get an application for a permit to remove a tree.”

He suggested that moving forward staff could consult the Town’s director of operations to find out which services the town uses when tree removal is needed on municipal property, and recommended council members make recommendations to the lists of problem trees.

The cost of hiring an arborist is unknown until staff looks at the services available, Larmour said.

The first amendment was put forward Coun. Gary Burroughs, who said he didn’t agree with some species of trees listed as nuisance trees in the bylaw, such as the black walnut and black locust. The motion to remove the tree from the list was unanimously passed.

Arsenault also motioned for a long list of tree species to be included in the bylaw as weed trees, including the Manitoba maple, tree of heaven, cottonwood, Norway maple, hawthorn, Russian olive, Siberian elm, salt cedar, chokecherry, common buckthorn, European or glossy buckthorn, black alder, autumn olive, white mulberry. He also motioned to add the female Ginko tree to the list of nuisance or weed trees.

The motion was also unanimously passed.

Coming full circle, Coun. Erwin Wiens motioned for the bylaw to include just the area of Old Town.

Coun. John Wiens then motioned to amend E. Wien’s motion, asking to limit the bylaw to Old Town, St. Davids, Virgil and Queenston. Council carried the amendment to Erwin’s motion, but ended up opposing it, landing them back where they started, with the bylaw covering all five areas of NOTL.

E. Wiens asked if there would be a chance for public consultation about the bylaw and which areas it should apply, noting concern for some areas like Glendale.

Disero said there would be a public review, and that the CAO would decide the appropriate time.

Coun. Clare Cameron motioned for a detailed map specifying the geographic areas in which the bylaw will apply, and for an additional schedule to identify preferred trees for replanting. Her motion was carried.

After all amendments were dealt with, council passed the bylaw, with two more motions being approved, to have staff look the bylaw and make recommendations, as well as to send it to a lawyer to see if any amendments need to be made.

“So the bylaw comes into effect immediately,” Disero said. “Thank you to all for your hard work.”

The town’s urban area boundary is pictured below as shown in the town’s current Official Plan.


This story has been edited to clarify that Coun. Arsenault’s amendment to add a number of trees to the bylaw was to have them added to the list of “weed trees,” not as protected trees.

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