Fear rises as trees cut on Shady Lane

Property owner clearing space for house expansion along leafy lane

  • Jun. 18, 2015 7:00 p.m.
Residents are worried as there is no limit to the number of trees that can be cut down.

Residents are worried as there is no limit to the number of trees that can be cut down.

Residents who enjoy the tall trees on Shady Lane may be worrying after seeing some chopped down.

Eight cedar or fir trees were cut recently on the lot at 21371 – 124th Ave. The trees were taken down as part of the building permit process because they were in the area, or close to it, proposed for an expansion of the home.

“They’re not the tagged trees [protected as part of the city’s road right of way], but they’re huge trees,” said Karen McLaren, who lives nearby.

Her family’s home is nearby and said the removal of the trees has “really changed the integrity of the place.

“It’s pretty shocking when you see it.”

McLaren said other residents are also worried.

“City hall doesn’t seem to care, but the people care.”

However, the property owner has followed all the bylaws and received permits to cut down the trees under the interim tree bylaw that’s in place, said environmental planner Rod Stott.

And based on either the interim bylaw, put in place until the new tree management bylaw comes into force, anyone on the street can do the same.

Under the interim bylaw, property owners in urban and rural Maple Ridge have to get permits to remove any tree larger than 10 centimetres in diameter.

Under the proposed new tree management bylaw, homeowners can take down any tree they want that’s under 20 centimetres in diameter.

There’s also no limit to the number of larger trees that can be cut down, as long as permits are obtained, cutting won’t affect a neighboring property and at least two trees per urban lot are preserved.

Stott said the city is protecting the trees that line Shady Lane within the road right of way. He added that cities and towns have the ability to protect trees from being cut down, but not to the extent that it impedes building or development. So if a homeowner is expanding his house, trees can be removed if they’re in the way.

He said the house on the property is also being expanded.

Stott said earlier that large trees can bring the owners up to $10,000, but in smaller areas, if they have to be chopped into smaller logs, the cost of the cutting could equal the price received for the timber.

He added that council could decide some heritage areas need further protection and pass separate bylaws to ensure that.

Under the interim tree bylaw, 90 tree-cutting permits have been issued in the last few months.

Under the old bylaw, no permits were needed to cut trees in the rural areas while homeowners in the suburbs could cut down three larger trees per year.

Coun. Craig Speirs said Maple Ridge’s urban forest needs to be protected. He was also upset about the tree cutting at Ridge Meadows Hospital that took away a shady place on the grounds for patients and families.

“Shady Lane needs to be protected.”

That will require the city work with homeowners. He’d like to ensure that whenever trees are cut, there’s a legitimate reason for that.