Talk About Trees: Burlington tree bylaw update

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July 12, 2013

Burlington Tree bylaw Staff ReportNew Picture (5)

This week staff presented a report to the  Development and  Infrastructure Committee on the Private Tree bylaw Feasibility Study. The report included results of the survey and public consultation on the feasibility of a private tree bylaw that staff have gathered from the community over the past several months.

This was an “Information Report” for Council. It did not contain any formal recommendations for action. The report includes options for council’s consideration and advises which options are supported by staff, based on research and public consultation.

The final decision regarding a tree bylaw will be made in the fall. However, from this report we know that staff will not be bringing forward a recommendation for a private tree bylaw, based on research done and the results of public engagement.

Our staff have done an excellent job creating opportunities for input on the issues of trees and gathering feedback on the potential for a private tree bylaw through online surveys, telephone surveys and a community workshop.

Public Feedback

As a result of the public consultation, we know at this time:

  • Residents recognize the value of trees to their community
  • Support for a bylaw regulating trees on private property is low based on the information presented
  • The unnecessary cutting of healthy trees on private property is not prevalent in Burlington at this time.
  • Many residents view new development as a contributor to tree loss
  • There is a desire amongst residents to increase public education and awareness about trees

(For all of the consultation results, read the report, page 11)

Council Voted

On Monday night, Committee voted to “Receive” the report and we had a lengthy discussion about the concept of a private tree bylaw.

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Some of the issues discussed at Monday’s meeting included the impact of clear-cutting for development and construction. Liz Benneian from OakvilleGreen presented to committee on the history of the Oakville Private Tree Bylaw. The issue in Oakvillle was primarily about the clear cutting of trees on development sites prior to the development application being received, or any construction taking place. To address the clear cutting issue, Oakville decided to cast a wide net on all properties with a private tree bylaw.

I believe the Oakville approach is still worthy of consideration even if we do not currently have significant issues of clear cutting in Burlington – we could have in the future.

However, I realize that Burlington has different issues and different problems with trees than those experienced in other municipalities like in Oakville or Toronto.

We do not have the same problems of clear cutting to make way for large new developments – as we do not have much greenspace left for large new development or subdivisions. Our growth and new development will be through infill and intensification and there are other ways to preserve and conserve our urban forest this way.

I have heard from some that feel strongly that we need to act to preserve trees, while others feel passionately that a tree bylaw will compromise their private property rights. There have been questions about trees lost to make way for development, but also greater questions about intensification in general.

At the Committee Meeting, Council voted to “receive” the report as submitted, without giving further direction to staff for further work to be done. Staff, however, did present other options for consideration including public education and awareness programs and updates to the public tree bylaw (to protect trees on public property). At the next Council meeting on Monday July 15, Council will be formally ratifying the motion to “receive the report.”

There was some confusion at the meeting about the concept of a private tree by-law being off the table. Ultimately, this decision is still up to Council and we will continue this discussion in the fall when the recommendation report is brought forward.

New Picture (7)Over the course of the summer, I will be talking with constituents about many issues – this being one of them. I look forward to talking with you and hearing from you about this issue, before it comes back to Council for a final decision in the fall.

What do you think?

Please let me know what you think and please share this with your friends and neighbours as I’d like to hear from all of you.

You can “share” to your social networks with the buttons at the top or bottom of this page, or email.

Thanks to all those who have contacted me  and shared their thoughts on this issue here, at the public meetings and consultation sessions.

More Information

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