Town seeks public input on private tree protection by-law

Public meetings scheduled for this month

Town seeks public input on private tree protection by-law
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Gisele Shaw

Gisele Shaw

Gisele Shaw is the Manager of Corporate Communication for the town of Oakville since 2002. Prior to working for the town she worked for Halton Region as a communications specialist. She is a graduate of Humber College.

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At last night’s meeting, Town Council directed staff to initiate a community consultation program to seek public input on a review of the town’s Private Tree Protection By-law 2008-156.

The current by-law was adopted by Council in 2008 to support a greener community and a healthier environment as set out in the Livable Oakville Plan. It introduced tree removal control that allowed property owners to annually remove a limited number of trees from a lot, but discouraged excessive removals.

“Council is committed to ensuring the health, vibrancy and protection of our tree canopy. The review of this by-law will ensure our commitment is being met as we continue moving towards our 40 per cent canopy coverage goal and creating an even cleaner, greener Oakville,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.

An initial review of the by-law by town staff found several areas for improvement.

Significantly, the current by-law allows an owner to remove a tree less than 20 cm diameter at breast height (dbh) and up to four trees totaling less than 76 cm dbh annually through a notification process and without permit. The notification process was put in place to allow for typical landowner improvement projects such as pool and shed installations. The process however also allowed for removals not associated with these types of activities, i.e. tree removals for any reason.

This raised concerns that the by-law needs an update. Trees in the range of 12 cm to 20 cm dbh provide canopy and environmental benefits to the community and are worth protecting. The current process does not encourage replanting of trees to compensate for the loss.

“The current by-law was well informed through considerable public input, and for the most part has been very well received. When the by-law was first adopted, no-one could predict the level of activity associated with the notification process nor the impact it would have on our canopy cover. Now that it has been in place for five years, it is time for a review of both its performance and application,” said Chris Mark, director of Parks and Open Space.

Several recommendations for improvements to the by-law were submitted in January 2014 by OakvilleGreen on behalf of nine resident associations expressing an urgent need to address tree protection in Oakville.

“Severe storm events like December’s ice storm and tree mortality due to pests like the Emerald Ash Borer are even greater incentive for citizens to re-examine how we can best protect the canopy and trees that remain, through a strengthening of the Private Tree By-law,” said Karen Brock, president of OakvilleGreen.

In light of this feedback, recommendations presented by staff include:

  • change the current size of trees regulated under the by-law from 20 cm dbh to 15 cm dbh
  • eliminate the notification process in favour of a modified permit process
  • adopt a simplified replacement formula of one replacement tree for every 10 cm of tree diameter removed.

Residents are invited to share their input of the by-law review at two public meetings this month:

  • April 23, 2014 at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre (Black Box Theatre) from 7 to 9 p.m.
  • April 24, 2014 at Town Hall (Bronte/Palermo Room) from 7 to 9 p.m.

If you are not able to attend a public meeting you may provide your comments by emailing privatetreebylawreview@oakville.ca

If you have any accessibility needs, please contact ServiceOakville at 905-845-6601 or serviceoakville@oakville.ca.

Information on tree protection and removal can be found at oakville.ca

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