Opinion Column

Vancouver right to end chainsaw tree massacres

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours



“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” — Martin Luther

The City of Vancouver has done the right thing by banning landowners and developers from committing chainsaw massacres of healthy trees.

Putting a stop to chopping down trees just to improve the view or build “monster” homes is a victory for common sense.

But the loud defenders of “private property rights” are in full cry, with chainsaws now forced to idle as city council unanimously passed amendments last week that bring Vancouver into line with rules in most other municipalities in the region, including Surrey and Richmond.

Previously — and amazingly considering Vancouver’s propensity for green space and environmental activism — homeowners could remove one healthy tree per year for any reason.

Last year, 1,805 trees were chopped down, or nearly five a day, and Vancouver’s tree canopy coverage has dropped to 18% today from 22% in 1996. During that period, about 23,500 mature trees were chopped down and that’s just wrong — Vancouver’s trees absorb 20,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and make the city more pleasant.

But those who still want to wield an axe to their alder, bulldoze their birch or mow down their maple are adamantly opposed.

It put CKNW AM 980 radio host Bill Good in a bad mood on Friday: “Stop nagging me — I’ve planted more trees than I wish to remove from my private property, but damn it I don’t want to have to beg permission to remove a tree in my yard,” Good fumed.

The reality is homeowners can still remove diseased trees, those interfering with sewer, drainage pipes or utility wires, and any too close to a house, causing damage to property or hazardous, or in case of “undue hardship.”

Many regulations already restrict homeowners — such building height restrictions, not playing loud music late at night, or allowing barking dogs.

Unnecessarily chopping down trees is no different. This change — and Vancouver’s plan to put 150,000 new trees in the ground by 2020 — is overdue.

As an ancient Chinese proverb rightly says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.”

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.ca Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman 







Do you agree with Vancouver’s new rules banning landowners from cutting down healthy trees?

Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions