Maple Ridge is working on a new tree bylaw, but in the meantime wants to ensure it keeps the trees it has.
Council recently approved an amendment to the tree protection bylaw, expanding areas where permits are needed in order to cut down trees.
Under Maple Ridge’s previous tree protection bylaw, people in rural areas could hack down as many trees as they wanted.
In Maple Ridge’s urban areas, permits to cut trees were only needed where property could be subdivided, on those larger than an acre, on slopes, near streams, in heritage or on development sites.
Otherwise, ordinary homeowners could chop down up to three trees yearly of any height or description without a permit.
However, under the tree protection amending bylaw, residents in both urban and rural areas will have to get permits to cut trees.
“Tree permits will now be required across the municipality with the new interim bylaw measures adopted today,” environmental planner Rod Stott said Thursday.
Fee exemptions are allowed for cases where there are hazard trees, danger trees, emergency works, and legitimate farm use.
Stott said has been dealing with many cases where neighbouring properties have been affected by poor tree-clearing practices, which have resulted flooding, drainage concerns, blow-down or windfall concerns, safety issues related to cutting practices.
Mayor Nicole Read said that council has approved writing a new tree management bylaw.
She encouraged residents and those in the real estate industry to join in the consultation process in the next few months, “to ensure that the final bylaw presented to council reflects our shared values around our environment.”
An open house also will get the public’s feedback on managing trees.
Feedback will be summarized and reflected in a new tree bylaw that will go to council this spring.