Residents and councillors alike are stumped when it comes to the removal of a 125-year-old Douglas fir tree near Parkside Elementary.
While a Langley Township media spokesperson acknowledged the tree cut was not a designated heritage tree, some are not pleased with that answer.
Peter Klynsoon, a senior resident who has lived in the cul-de-sac at 33A Avenue beside the school, said he is upset with the Township because of this particular tree.
“I’m not satisfied with the Township’s response to just brush this off. That tree has been there long before the school was,” he explained. “The tree was not interfering with any properties. It was healthy and not bothering anybody. Kids would play there.”
Klynsoon recalled his lifelong efforts of environmentalism, helping install the Tynehead Hatchery in Surrey, where he used to get Scout members to plant trees.
He asked why this couldn’t be done in Aldergrove.
“I’m really upset, and I wish I could have done something to save it,” Klynsoon added.
The Township’s Tree Protection Advisory Committee is a team of community members to provide advice and guidance for the protection, preservation, and planting of trees in Langley Township.
The committee, co-chaired by Councillors Blair Whitmarsh and Petrina Arnason, assists Township staff in a conversational, “round-table” format to offer feedback, review materials, and report back to the community.
As of September 2020, there are nine members who have met on five occasions to regulate Bylaw No. 5478 which imposes requirements for both tree cutting and protection.
“Prior to 2019, there was no protection bylaw in terms of private property until this bylaw was approved,” Whitmarsh explained. “We have come together to review how it’s working and if any changes need to be made.”
The councillor said the committee includes arborists and people in the ecology industry.
“We’re in the process of making updates and developing a strategy. Recommendations will be brought forward to council to strengthen the bylaw,” he said. “I can say council, as a whole, is in favour of protecting trees.”
To his knowledge, Whitmarsh noted that nothing egregious happened with the particular Douglas fir in question.
“The person got a permit and was allowed to remove the tree, which they went ahead and did,” Whitmarsh noted. “So, the bylaw is not specific enough as it is – failing to stop this tree from coming down.”
Coun. Kim Richter additionally stressed to the Aldergrove Star that on ALR land – used for food production – Township has no control.
“I have said for years now that new development should protect more trees and canopy cover. New development should occur around tree retention and protection,” Richter said. “Mature trees offer so many benefits for the community like better health and live-ability but keeping trees is just not cost-effective for developers and interfere with their housing-profit yield.”
Metro Vancouver is currently working to increase tree canopy growth from 32 per cent to 40 per cent – which is planned to be accomplished through planting and preservation.
“There are plans for planting, but how are we going to reach this goal if we’re not stopping mass waves of cutting and development?” Richter asked.
More information on the committee and its efforts can be found www.tol.ca/your-township/plans-reports-and-strategies/tree-protection-advisory-committee.
“We have to do better for our environment,” Klynsoon insisted. “How much old growth forest is left? Every trees important especially old ones.”
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