New committee to review eco plan

Maple Ridge tree protection bylaw to be toughened up.

Staff will also try to improve clarity around water course protection permits.

Staff will also try to improve clarity around water course protection permits.

Council has approved the creation of an environmental advisory committee.

Council also assigned the committee its first job: reviewing Maple Ridge’s new environmental management strategy.

Once that group has reviewed the eco plan, it will be shipped back to Maple Ridge council for final approval.

Described as a “road map” for future development, the environmental management strategy is focused on protecting eco-systems, anticipating outcomes of climate change and determining guidelines for environmentally sensitive areas.

And while the new environmental committee is reviewing that plan, Maple Ridge is moving ahead with other more pressing eco issues.

The city’s tree protection bylaw will be toughened up, as will the rules that control where soil from construction sites can be dumped, council decided last week.

The environmental management strategy uses data collected during the environmentally sensitive areas mapping that took place in Maple Ridge more than half a decade ago.

“The intent is to try …develop responsibly,” so the city doesn’t have to pay the costs for environmental repairs later on, said environmental planner Rod Stott.

It’s got wide support in the area, he added.

Another benefit will be in clarifying policies in the area, he added.

“I’m really happy with the work so far and look forward to the environmental committee being formed,” said Coun. Bob Masse.

Coun. Corisa Bell said council has been talking about rewriting its tree bylaw for the entire term. Meanwhile, the community’s losing hundreds of trees.

She hoped that council at least would pass that.

Coun. Al Hogarth, though, wanted to know why Maple Ridge is maintaining its existing  conservation areas and trails that are created whenever a housing development takes place.

“I think we have to look back and see how were looking after what we’ve got.”

Coun. Mike Morden wanted to know the cost of any new regulations whether it will make the district less efficient.

Maple Ridge is re-organizing the eight advisory committees that can give council direction on issues.

But the environmental sustainability advisory committee won’t be formed until next year, consisting of four members of the public, staff and two members of the business community.