Tree bylaw needs teeth

The Editor;

Re: "Monster homes eat trees," Letters, Nov. 4.

article continues below

Eyal Lychtmann laments the loss of trees and questions, "Are there no bylaws to protect the trees?"

Sadly, despite the existence of City of Richmond Tree Protection Bylaw 8057, my wife and I fought both the owner/builder and City Hall for almost two years during development of a monster house to protect the beautiful weeping birch, cedar, mountain ash and plum cherry trees that have been on our property for over 50 years.

For just one example, the bylaw allows for the creation of Tree Protection Zones (TPZ) and that said root zones exist in perpetuity.

We had to fight to get a TPZ, we had another fight because the first TPZ we got was small and in clear violation of the bylaw.

Then, imagine our reaction when the contractor not only violated the established zone by driving stakes into the ground, they took the protection fencing down entirely, in clear violation of the written bylaw (which states the TPZ cannot be entered, its fence cannot be removed and the zone cannot be used to store materials).

The reaction of the TPZ bylaw officer, while standing inside the TPZ at the time I was complaining, was, to paraphrase, "Well, how do you expect them to build the house foundation?"

I replied, "What is my concern is that the bylaw is demonstrably broken, my trees are in jeopardy and if the building cannot be built without breaking the bylaw, then maybe the building is too big for the lot."

The bylaw officer said the builder had a building permit, which trumps anything and everything in the Tree Protection Bylaw.

One should not have to fight with the very people charged with enforcing the city's bylaws.

So, don't let anybody at city hall tell you that we have a Tree Protection Bylaw.

What we have is absolutely worthless against a building permit as the latter will win every time, and the trees (and we citizens) will lose every time.

I recall several years ago, that a cynic stated the tree cutting fee was just a tax to reap funds for the city.

For a fee (read tax), you can cut down whatever you like and clear cut your lot to the borders, which is what we have seen repeated in our neighbourhood time and again.

So, Eyal, unless we can get our upcoming mayoral and council candidates to commit to really protecting our trees and fixing our broken Bylaw 8057, we are doomed to clearcuts, paving stones and monster homes that cover 90% of the property, leaving only token bits of greenery.

Wesley Yale

Richmond

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