A proposed tree protection bylaw that would apply to the downtown core has been sent back by council for more work. (Houston Today photo)

A proposed tree protection bylaw that would apply to the downtown core has been sent back by council for more work. (Houston Today photo)

Council ponders bylaw to protect trees

But rejects first proposed wording

A proposed bylaw to protect trees within the downtown and commercial areas while providing for ways to remove trees that are diseased or which might be a hazard has been sent back by council to staffers for more work.

The proposed bylaw was introduced for first reading, a step that would lead to debate and seeking public opinion, during the committee of the whole portion of the July 20 council meeting.

And that followed direction given by council last fall to put together a tree management bylaw that would:

– outline a dedicated area for tree protection in the commercial and downtown areas

– require trees to be replaced if they were cut down

– put in place a permit system for anyone wishing to cut down a tree

District staffers then researched the existence of tree management bylaws in other local governments discovering, for example, that while enforcement is carried out, that might be difficult for the District because of lack of resources.

“Tree replacement is a requirement that may be imposed when a tree is illegally cut down in the community,” District management intern Diana Reyes wrote in an explanatory memo.

“This kind of regulation could offset the impacts of tree cutting to the community by preserving a healthy stock of trees for future generations.”

Reyes added that any bylaw “should promote preservation efforts without impeding development-related activity.”

A map as part of the proposed bylaw outlined an area that is generally begins at Nadina Drive and the Hamblin Frontage Road running toward the center of town with the frontage road on one side and Hillside Drive on the other. It takes the 13th and 14 St. areas crossing Buck Creek toward Copeland, encompassing 9th and 10th within the downtown core and crossing Butler to Avalon Ave.

Provisions within the proposed bylaw would prohibit removing ‘protected trees’, trees close to a watercourse and stumps or roots of trees in steep slope areas.

Councillors discussed environmental aspects of the proposed bylaw including stabilization of slopes, beautification aspects of tree preservation, preservation of trees within floodplains and how tree management can prevent the threat of wildfires.

Their comments have now been passed to staffers to incorporate within a revised bylaw draft for future consideration.