Langley Township council may have been divided on an interim tree preservation bylaw for the Brookswood-Fernridge area, but the Township is not hesitating in taking steps to enforce the bylaw, which came into effect April 29.
In some respects, it had little choice. Residents of the area have mobilized to a degree that is almost unprecedented, and are on the alert for any flagrant acts of mass tree-cutting. Last Thursday, The Times received three messages in one hour about one property on 27 Avenue which was being denuded of trees. The Township was also being inundated with calls.
It issued a cease-and-desist order on Friday and is now looking into charging the owners of the property with breaking the bylaw. Maximum fine is $10,000.
The clear-cutting did not begin until Thursday, two days after the bylaw passed. The owners of the property do not reside on the land in question, although it is quite likely they had heard about the potential for a tree-cutting bylaw, given the heated discussion over the Official Community Plan and the many instances of rampant tree-cutting in the area.
These incidents seems to have increased quite substantially since concerns about the Official Community Plan were raised at open houses several months ago. When council rejected the OCP changes, tree-cutting seemed to rev into a higher gear.
While such counter-reactions are not unusual, it was akin to waving a red flag at an already-enraged bull. Had property owners kept the chainsaws quiet, it is unlikely there would have been such a swift reaction.
The issue of clear-cutting in an area such as Fernridge and Brookswood is much more than simply a property rights issue. Few would disagree that there are some magnificent tree specimens in the area, and that its wooded nature is one of its main attractions.
Those property owners who simply ignore that, and cut down all the trees on their large properties, are the ones who brought on this bylaw. Their lack of consideration for others has led to government interference, and watchfulness and mistrust on the part of their neighbours.
It’s the opposite of the community spirit that Langley is well-known for.