Calling recommendations from the city’s environment committee “redundant,” Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum chose not to have council vote on them.
“On the recommendations, I am, from the chair, going to say that they are redundant,” McCallum said. “This council has already asked planning staff to do a full report for us on the tree bylaw.”
He had the recommendations referred back to planning staff.
Coun. Steven Pettigrew, chair of the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee (ESAC), was outraged over the mayor’s actions.
“It’s insulting,” Pettigrew said, adding he was expecting city council to be able to have some kind of dialogue about it. “And he just did what he did.”
~Coun. Steven Pettigrew
Mike Starchuk, former ESAC chair said the mayor’s comments were uncalled for.
“I think I would have taken exception to the word redundant,” Starchuk said. “How respectful is that of the committee and the committee process?”
[Mayor’s full comments at council]
McCallum referred it back to planning staff to “coincide with a report to council.”
Members of ESAC are not allowed to speak publicly as members of the committee.
The changes to the tree bylaw contained in ESAC minutes include:
- examining the “capital values” of trees that are removed and ensure penalties are scaled to the size of the tree. For instance, a tree 100 cm diameter at breast height would have a higher permit fees and greater fines if they’re cut down without permission.
- Providing additional incentives to builders and homeowners to retain trees.
Improve visibility and display of tree cutting permit notices, and consider an online tree cutting permit database.
- Consider the potential for a municipal nursery for tree and plant salvage
- Provide better mechanisms to allow for effective enforcement.
- Consider benefits that trees provide to the ecosystem
The latter recommendation alludes to something brought up frequently before council by Deb Jack, president of the Surrey Environmental Partners. Jack wants to see alder and spruce given more consideration by the city.
Often described as scrub, both trees have a huge value as a carbon sink, which has a great effect in preventing global warming.
The recommendations are now in the hands of planning staff and may become part of a report to council in the near future.
Mayor Doug McCallum was not immediately available for comment.