Following up on a request from the February 18th Council meeting, Director of Planning Karen Ellis presented a proposal for an updated and strengthened Municipal Tree Replacement policy at the most recent Council meeting. The objective was to recognize and protect the important tree canopies on municipal lands, and ensure that the preservation and protection of trees be included as a key consideration in municipal operations.
The new policy provides for the replacement of any tree that is removed from township-owned lands at a ratio of at least one for one. Should the original tree location be unsuitable due to conflicts with utility or traffic infrastructure, intersection sight lines or the potential growth of already established trees, the Public Works Department can select an alternate location for the replacement tree.
While a welcome start, the new policy does not address the broader community concern about tree removal on private land. With the extensive development occurring throughout the municipality, residents have expressed concern about clear cutting woodlands located on privately owned lands, particularly those owned by developers. A few months ago, a delegation led by Millbrook resident George Raab asked Council to develop a tree cutting by-law that would apply to these properties.
There are already some protections in place through existing policies. For example, areas classified under restrictive environmental designations such as the Natural Heritage System include tree protection policies, as does the township’s Official Plan, but many areas remain vulnerable.
At the June 15th meeting, Council discussed the options available to strengthen the control of tree removal on private property to further protect tree canopy across the township. However, municipal authority for tree removal his activity is limited to parcels of up to 1 hectare in size; larger parcels fall under the jurisdiction of higher tiers of government, in this case Peterborough County. Council decided to send a request to Peterborough County Council to establish a tree cutting by-law for the County by the end of the year, or to delegate the authority to do so to the municipality to allow it to better protect trees across the township. KG