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Amended tree bylaw aims to better protect nature

Saanich parks expected to present updated bylaw Monday with the intent to stem the loss of canopy cover

Stakeholders from property owners to developers have had their say, and now the proposed changes to Saanich’s tree preservation bylaw are up for discussion at council on Monday.

Key elements of the bylaw amendment include protection of younger trees, particularly native species; eliminating most tree pruning permit requirements; and Saanich providing free replacements for trees removed due to being dead, dying or diseased, or because of infrastructure conflicts.

“The changes reflect the comments (and) concerns expressed through the public consultation, while also protecting and retaining more trees and planting replacement trees after protected trees are removed,”  Cory Manton, Saanich’s manager of urban forestry, horticulture and natural areas, said in the report up for discussion.

“The amendments focus on protecting more trees and planting replacement trees which will help achieve the canopy cover indicator in the Saanich Strategic Plan. The amendments find a balance between the benefits of the urban forest and the challenge of maintaining protected trees on private property.”

Saanich lost roughly 280 hectares of canopy cover between 2005 and 2009.

“If this trend continued forever, you’re going to find an imbalance at some point where the trees are no longer going to provide the benefits that they do for us today,” Manton told the News last year.

Since Saanich started looking at the bylaw to protect trees last spring, they’ve held stakeholder information meetings, met with community associations, held an open house and offered online and paper surveys.

Overall feedback from the community shows protection of native trees and tree replacement requirements as a high priority.

The proposed amendment would make tree replacement required in most circumstances. If it is dead, dying or diseased, the district would provide a free replacement and not charge a fee for a removal permit.

Replacement trees would be planted, if possible, on the same lot as trees cut or removed.

Saanich council is slated to discuss the proposed bylaw changes at municipal hall (770 Vernon Ave.) beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Monday (March 10).

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