Suggestions for changes to a contentious White Rock policy governing the pruning and removal of trees on public property have been made.
Considered by city council Monday night – after Peace Arch News press deadline – proposed revisions to Policy 611 include replacing a provision that allows residents to apply for the pruning or removal of any tree on city land with one that allows applications to prune or remove a tree that has grown to obscure an established view.
“The revised policy recognizes the inherent qualities and value of a tree on city land to the community, and the city will not consider applications to prune or remove a tree… due to leaf, flower, pith or seed litter, size or shade,” states a report by Rob Thompson, director of municipal operations.
“The city will consider an application to re-establish a view that has been obscured by tree growth, but will not consider a request to prune or remove a tree on city land to establish a new view.”
Policy 611 was first approved by council in June 2010, and was intended to give staff and council guidance in dealing with applications to trim, prune or remove trees on city lands.
It became a source of contention earlier this year, after council granted an appeal that resulted in the removal of two trees in the 15100-block of Royal Avenue. The applicant said the trees were blocking views.
In his report, Thompson also suggests applications regarding city trees only be considered from White Rock property owners who have lived at their property for at least two years; and that such owners be allowed to apply no more than once every two years.
Requests to prune or remove trees in city parks should not be considered, Thompson adds. And, all decisions would be final.
If the policy is approved, applicants would have to meet two key criteria: prove a view has become obscured by growth; and, have support of 80 per cent of respondents living within 30 metres of the tree in question.
Describing the revised policy as a “more proactive approach to the management and enhancement of the city’s urban forest assets,” Thompson notes it may require more resources to implement.
He recommended council direct staff to proceed with public consultation, with results to be presented in September.
If approved, any additional funds required to implement it will be brought for consideration in the city’s 2012 financial plan.