The saga of a tree-cutting ban in Langley Township has more twists and turns than a pretzel. It is almost certain that these twists are directly related to the upcoming municipal election.
There is no doubt that a substantial number of Brookswood and Fernridge residents are frustrated by brazen clear-cutting of stands of large coniferous trees, particularly on acreages in the undeveloped Fernridge area.
An interim tree-cutting bylaw that applied to just that area was set to be passed by Township council on April 14. But it was defeated in a 5-4 vote, with property rights cited as a reason not to proceed. Now, after some compromise by those in favour of a ban, Councillor Bob Long has changed his vote, and the interim ban has proceeded, also by a 5-4 margin. Landowners will be able to cut eight trees and up to 20 per cent of the lot area without penalty.
This is meant as an interim step, while the Township drafts a permanent bylaw. Any such bylaw should apply to all areas of the Township.
If the Township is bringing in such a bylaw, it needs to avoid the excessive costs that accompany many other Lower Mainland tree preservation bylaws, and apply more common sense.
At the same time, there is genuine public concern about dramatic changes in the landscape and the neighbourhood. There is really no good reason to cut huge numbers of trees on a five-acre parcel of land, when building one home.
The Brookswood and Fernridge areas do have some of the nicest stands of coniferous trees in Langley, and the large trees are one of the attractions for residents. Steps to prevent wanton cutting are, unfortunately, necessary.