Rae Roer

Rae Roer

Saanich aims to stem loss of tree canopy

District proposes tougher tree protection rules for private property

With the amount of tree canopy cover in Saanich eroding, the municipality is looking to toughen up its existing tree preservation bylaw in hopes of protecting what’s left of the urban forest.

The changes include adding more species – grand fir and big leaf maple – to Saanich’s list of protected trees, and reducing the size threshold for cutting to put even more protections on seedlings and young trees on private property.

“We lost about 2.5 per cent of our canopy cover between 2005 and 2009, which equated to about 280 hectares of canopy cover,” said Cory Manton, Saanich’s manager of urban forestry, horticulture and natural areas.

“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 says those four years between 2005 and 2009 saw the amount of mature tree canopy decrease in every neighbourhood and every zoning class in the municipality.

According to Saanich’s Land Cover Mapping report from 2012, the Douglas neighbourhood – around Uptown and municipal hall – lost 34.4 per cent of its treed land cover in that four-year span.

The problem, Manton said, is a lot of trees are removed to make way for development. Because these developments – buildings, roads, driveways and the like – are impervious obstacles, the amount of available planting land is also shrinking.

By amending the bylaw, Saanich hopes to sustain or even grow the urban forest, but that will take time.

“The bylaw’s a measure to stem future loss, but also to require replacement tree planting so you shouldn’t have a net loss in the overall canopy in the long-term,” Manton said. “Even though, tree for tree, you might be replacing a big tree with a little tree, that little tree will grow to be the big tree.”

Saanich staff presented the proposed amendments at an open house at Cedar Hill golf course earlier this week.

While many people said the changes don’t go far enough, some felt the changes are too stringent.

“Property owners are supposed to own their property, and Saanich is continuously eroding their ability to care and control their property and the trees on it, all in the name of environmental concerns,” said Saanich resident Fraser Ramsay.

“It’s an easy sell, but it makes it more difficult for residents to control their property or the foliage on their property. That really irritates me.”

Rae Roer, Saanich’s manager of parks said the benefits of Saanich’s urban forest are being eroded.

“The overall vision is to protect and enhance the urban forest,” Roer said. “Protecting relates to smaller species, and enhancing means replacement, so if there’s going to be loss, we’re replacing them to prevent future net canopy loss.”

Staff hope to present the amended bylaw to council in November.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Proposed tree protection bylaw changes

-The proposed bylaw changes include protecting arbutus, Garry oak, Pacific yew and Pacific dogwood based on height (taller than 50 cm), rather than thickness.

-Any Douglas fir or western red cedar with a 30 cm DBH (diameter at breast height, a thickness measure) or larger will be protected, compared to the existing 60 cm DBH.

-Grand fir and big leaf maple trees with a 30 cm DBH or larger will also be protected, down from 80 cm DBH minimum in the existing bylaw.

-It will also cost more to get Saanich’s approval to remove a tree on private property – from the current $25 administration fee plus $5 per tree, to a $75 fee plus $25 per tree.

-Visit saanich.ca/amendingtreebylaw for a full list of proposed changes.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

Crews disassemble the iconic red and white KFC bucket from a sign on Goldstream Avenue. (Photo courtesy of Mark Schoor)
Iconic KFC bucket removed from Goldstream Avenue

Popular fast-food chain closes Langford location

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read