The Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection Bylaw 2006-279 has been in place for 8 years. When the Champlain Oaks Project started in late 2010 we were told by the City’s Forestry Services that this and the Urban Tree Conservation Bylaw 2009-200 were primarly educational tools. Enforcement would come later, once property owners and contractors were aware of the By-laws and understood their intent and value.
It is time to recognize that the strategy has been a failure.
The photo from today of two City street trees (public property) down the street from my house is a graphic illustration. Despite the clear requirements of the Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection Bylaw to have written approval from the City prior to commencing work around a City tree (section 7.1) and to agree in writing to conditions (protective fencing; keeping construction materials away from the tree, etc.), the trees have been treated as a dumping ground for boulders and dirt that is likely to sit there for weeks. Damage to the bark has already occured. The trees (lindens) are about 65 years old, mature by this species’ standard but still healthy enough to grace the street for years if not stressed into premature death.
In this case, the contractor (a young woman) claims to not be aware of the bylaw, or that her actions might damage the trees. I’m not sure if the property owner knows a violation of the Bylaw is underway. My call to 311 to report the situation confused the City’s service provider so much it became clear she is not aware of the Bylaw or how to report the complaint.
It is time Forestry Services reported to Council and to the public on implementation of these two By-laws, and on the gaps in its strategy to educate and enforce them. The new Council must demand such a report, and follow up until the Bylaw does what it is supposed to do.