Peterborough suspends tree-cutting bylaw

Click to play video: 'Peterborough’s tree conservation bylaw gets the axe – for now'
Peterborough’s tree conservation bylaw gets the axe – for now
About 16 months ago Peterborough enacted a tree bylaw that required residents to get City permission anytime they wanted to remove a tree on their property (with exceptions for dead trees and Ash trees). – Mar 7, 2019

If you live in Peterborough, you won’t need a permit to cut or trim a tree on your property.

Sitting as general committee, councillors voted to suspend the permitting process temporarily while staff takes a look at making changes to the current bylaw, which will also involve public consultation.

“When it first passed, I did not vote for it.  It wasn’t user-friendly,” said Coun. Don Vassiliadis. “We’ve had problem after problem with it. When I was campaigning, it was one of top-three issues I heard of. It was Peterborough Distribution Inc., The Parkway and the tree bylaw.”

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The bylaw has been in place since 2017. It was implemented to protect the City’s tree canopy. Under the Municipal Act, municipalities need to have tree conservation rules. For that reason, the bylaw will likely not be thrown out entirely, but likely overhauled.

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“It takes away the rights of the property owner,” added Vassiliadis. “It had a lot of delays with it and problems with it. In some cases, it would pit neighbour against neighbour on tree issues.”

According to a staff report that went to council on Monday, there have been 1,143 applications submitted to the City under the Tree Conservation Bylaw.

Of those applications, 522, or 21 per cent, were to remove a dead or dying tree.

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“I think it was premature to jump and say, ‘Cut the bylaw,” said Vern Bastable, manager of GreenUP Ecology Park. “If people are considering removing a tree, please take the time and have someone who knows what they’re doing take a look at it. You don’t want to amputate a part of the urban forest that doesn’t need to be.”

The bylaw required homeowners to plant at least one new tree in place of the one that was removed. How many trees depended on how big the tree was that was cut down.

The decision to suspend the bylaw will be ratified in about two weeks.

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