Trees provide many ecological services that align with livability goals set by Metro Vancouver members. In the City of Maple Ridge, a new tree protection bylaw places more emphasis, education and enforcement on keeping trees.
Maple Ridge is one of nine member municipalities in Metro Vancouver that has updated regulations to protect and enhance the region’s urban forest. “We have a lot of tree canopy in Maple Ridge,” said Mayor Nicole Read. “But as we develop into some of the rural areas in the natural surroundings we want to be able to preserve that tree canopy.”
The aim is to maintain the City’s overall tree canopy coverage of about 55 per cent. Rodney Stott is Environmental Planner with the City of Maple Ridge. “Within the develop-able portion of sites, we’re aiming at 30 per cent tree canopy retention or replacement,” he said. Stott adds that trees on about 25 per cent of the municipality will be preserved through other protection measures.
Tree and hedge cutting are still allowed, but now there are size limits, permit requirement fees and different standards for urban and rural properties. Previously, only specific conservation areas were protected.
The prior situation prompted Maple Ridge resident Jessie Joy Lees to speak up and present to City Council. “We lost 400 trees in our neighborhood over three years,” she said. “People were just cutting every day, animals and birds were losing their homes and the sound quality just disappeared.”
Maple Ridge Council wanted a bylaw that balanced both sides of its community — urban and rural. Tree management plans are now required for sites under construction. “We’re looking at proper management of trees during construction processes and and after the construction,” said Stott. “There’s a very strong emphasis on replanting and protection of trees on site.”
Stott feels that public awareness is increasing. “As we continue to grow, people are starting to become more aware of the numerous benefits and services that trees are providing us with on a daily basis,” he said. “To manage these things not just for our generation but for future generations, that’s a great thing as far as I’m concerned.”
The final Tree Protection & Management Bylaw No. 7133-2015 was adopted by Maple Ridge Council on January 12, 2016.
To learn more about the maintenance of healthy urban forests in our region visit metrovancouver.org and search “Urban Forest.”
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