Langford city council voted against moving forward with a tree protection bylaw, in a keenly debated council meeting.
During the Jan. 10 council meeting, Langford Mayor Stew Young said the proposed bylaw would only cover around 30 per cent of the trees in Langford, the ones on private land. Seventy per cent of the city’s trees are on city-owned land, which is already covered by the tree management plan, he said. In Langford administration’s report on the proposed bylaw, it said that “it is unlikely that such a bylaw would actually preserve any trees that are not already being preserved.”
“We’re creating red tape and bureaucracy where we don’t need it,” said Young. “When we work with developers, there’s not a tree problem,” he added.
Coun. Lanny Seaton said the bylaw would make it harder for residents to manage trees and ensure their safety on their own property – and would feel the city was “coming after the little people.”
“I have a problem with creating a bylaw that beats up on local people,” he said.
Coun. Lillian Szpak said more consultation should be done with professional arborists and residents, and work should also be done looking into other municipalities’ bylaws. These were concerns reiterated by residents. Matt Rodgers wrote to council saying the report should be re-prepared with proper consultation with forestry professionals.
“Finally, the existing measures put in place by the city to protect trees, such as development permit areas, have not done an adequate job at protecting mature trees and have led to substantial deforestation outside of the CRD and B.C. parks within Langford’s boundaries,” he added in an email to council.
Currently, Langford is the only municipality in the Capital Region district that doesn’t have some form of tree protection bylaw, apart from Sooke (which is working on developing one.)
Ultimately, Couns. Szpak and Denise Blackwell voted in favour of telling city staff to prepare another report, with all other councillors and the mayor voting against it.