Some municipalities in Canada have done a lot to aid in environmental preservation while still allowing for sustainable development. However, some of these municipalities think they can do more. One of those is North Vancouver. According to the District of North Vancouver, you may need a permit to cut down trees above a specific width or height. Recent development in the area have left the council contemplating whether they should be doing more to protect the city’s trees from environmental degradation. Council members voted to do a staff review ahead of a council workshop to consider the city’s options in what they should do.
Recent Development Led to Loss of Foliage
Over the last ten years, the bylaw seems to have done a bit to stop the wanton removal of forests in the area. However, the city has still lost some of its tree cover. Between developmental pressures and new construction, many trees are being cut down on properties to facilitate the work. Clearcutting of lots, while not banned, might preserve some more forested regions. Unfortunately, the pressure of development may also play a significant part in whether the bylaw remains relevant. Too strict a pronouncement or update to the laws may chase away development or negatively impact locals’ ability to construct their houses legally. The council knows that they are walking a fine line, but they take their responsibility to the environment seriously. Unfortunately, the residents may not share their views since overbearing laws may complicate construction and increase costs.
Fines Not Nearly High Enough
Under the current bylaws, the fine for a 300-year-old tree is a mere $500. Councilor Betty Forbes terms this level of fining ridiculous. “There’s no built-in incentive for the developer to save that tree. It’s a cost of doing business.” The council has witnessed wanton destruction of trees on residential lots to facilitate rebuilding and renovation. Councilor Lisa Muri wondered how homeowners were getting away with clearcutting forested regions during the bird-nesting season without any backlash. Part of the problem is how lucrative it is for development. While companies like Smith’s Tree Removal follow guidelines for cutting and removing trees, many homeowners opt to DIY to save money that they can put into their development.
Difficult to Put an outright Ban on Tree-Cutting
The removal of foliage is part of the cost of doing business, after all. The Mayor, Mike Little, mentions that he didn’t think the municipality had any right to interfere with what homeowners do on their own properties. In areas closer to the forest, it may actually benefit the greenery that there be a fire break between them. Owners will still need permits to remove trees on their properties, but the mayor is not in agreement that stricter laws should be instituted to deal with this element of development. The administration can make it more difficult for residents to cut down trees by increasing strictures in the bylaws. Whether that will aid the area’s development or not remains to be seen.