Tree Conservation by-law
Dear Mr. Wylie,
From your response to a query from Councillors on the Environment Committee yesterday (April 19, 2016), I understood that your office could mobilize the human resources needed to collate and analyze existing requested information on the operations of the Urban Tree Conservation By-law (number of trees felled/damaged, reasons for felling/damage, violations for felling/damaging without a permit)? And that this could be done without pulling Forestry Services staff from much needed enforcement activities on the ground.
This information would be of considerable use to people in the general public following the challenges facing Ottawa's urban canopy. It would help all parties concerned assess the scale and impact of two fundamental problems affecting implementation of the Urban Tree Conservation By-law (protection of distinctive, aka, big trees on private property in the urban core):
- It seems that the tree permitting process is not yet coordinated effectively with other key permitting processes (building permits, site plans, Committee of Adjustment proceedings, excavation permits, etc.). As a result, trees on development properties and on neighbouring properties are not systematically acknowledged until it is too late to consider meaningful protection or mitigation strategies.
- It seems that violations of the by-law (cutting or damaging trees without a permit) were not prosecuted between 2009 and 2014 (the by-law education period), inadvertently sending the message to builders that the bylaw can be ignored. Prosecutions started in late 2015 but are pursued haphazardly and have rarely resulted in convictions or fines of more than $500. As a result, there is little incentive for builders to protect big trees on the property or on neighbouring properties affected by excavations.
Finally, I understand that the public will be provided an opportunity to comment on the draft Urban Forest Management Plan some time in May. Having access to this information in time for the public consultation would contribute to ongoing discussions about the Urban Forest Management Plan. Possible?