Councillor Petrina Arnason voted against an agreement with a developer to pay $37,800 for clear-cutting an Aldergrove site without proper permission.

Councillor Petrina Arnason voted against an agreement with a developer to pay $37,800 for clear-cutting an Aldergrove site without proper permission.

Tree-cutting penalties possible in Township

Staff to research punishment in cases of clear-cutting on private property

After discovering there was no rule that precisely covers clear-cutting without proper permission, a Langley Township councillor has convinced her colleagues to close the loophole in the current bylaws.

Councillor Petrina Arnason won support from a majority of council on Jan. 12 for her proposal to look into “creating a strict liability offence or other penalty framework” for private property owners who remove trees when they aren’t supposed to.

Arnason’s push comes in response to the Beedie Development Group case, where the property owner chopped down all of the trees on property it owns at 56 Avenue and 272 Street in the Gloucester Industrial Area, without getting the necessary approval from Langley Township.

Beedie said it was done by accident, the result of a misunderstanding.

At their Dec. 8 meeting, council approved a $37,800 settlement with Beedie after Ramin Seifi, the Township general manager of engineering and community development, said there was nothing on the books that covered the situation (council has approved an interim bylaw restricting tree-cutting in Brookswood, but it doesn’t apply to the rest of Langley Township).

Without a bylaw setting out a penalty for cutting down trees without permission in Gloucester, Seifi said the best approach seemed to be negotiating a deal.

Seifi added the first financial offer from the  developer “was significantly less” than the $37,800” Beedie agreed to in the end.

It works out to $350 per tree (the number of fallen trees was originally reported at 82, but that figure was revised to 108 in a Dec. 8 staff report to council).

Arnason said the current rules that try to restrict tree-cutting without setting out the punishment were “impotent.”

The proposal was supported by Councillor Michelle Sparrow, who said “there should be some kind of consequence.”

Township staff are to investigate the matter and report back with suggestions.

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