Vernonites will be encouraged to preserve and maintain trees.
On Monday, council directed staff to update the tree protection bylaw and to also create education and incentive programs to support tree protection.
“I’m very excited that council is working towards the enhancement of trees and preserving what we have,” said Coun. Buffy Baumbrough.
The present tree protection bylaw has been in place since 1996 and the goal is to update the document so it reflects community sustainability, air quality, storm water quality and reducing greenhouse gases.
“Overall air quality is improved through the absorption of carbon monoxide by trees,” said Brooke Marshall, environmental planner.
Through education and incentive programs, residents would be urged to look after trees and retain them instead of cutting them down.
“Trees along streets beautify the area,” said Marshall.
A survey has looked at the current state of trees throughout the community and what steps may be needed if long-term goals are to be achieved.
“Some areas of the central neighbourhood (downtown) will have to be more densely treed,” said Marshall.
“Middleton Mountain has hardly any trees.”
Council has also endorsed the creation of a bylaw protecting trees that are at least 60 years old.
“These are attractive and familiar neighbourhood features,” said Marshall.
“A heritage tree bylaw could address issues such as the timing of removal if a tree is unhealthy or is a hazard.”
A recent inventory indicated there are 265 heritage trees in lower East Hill, with 192 considered to be in good condition. There are 28 heritage trees downtown, with 17 trees in good health.
More heritage trees were found on private property than on public land.
Coun. Jack Gilroy believes there is a need to plant more trees and maintain those that already exist.
“Forty-five years ago, main street (30th Avenue) had beautiful trees and they all were taken down. I’d like to see more green downtown,” he said.