An amended trees bylaw has been approved by Maple Creek Town Council.
Under one amendment, the Town of Maple Creek can consider removing a boulevard tree if it negatively affects approved building permits on adjacent property.
Another amendment requires the Town to replace a boulevard tree it removes. The replacement tree will be as close as possible to the removed one.
This brings the Town in line with property owners who, under the bylaw, must pay for the cost of a replacement tree, if forced to remove a tree.
The amended bylaw passed three readings at Council’s last meeting on September 13. It had already been before Council twice.
At an earlier meeting, one councillor, who has since stepped down from Council, opposed the additional wording for the amendment related to removing trees that affect building permits.
“This just gives more opportunity for people to remove trees seen as an inconvenience,” Cara Teichroeb argued.
The amendment relates to a section headed: “Removal of Boulevard Trees by the Town of Maple Creek.”
The first part of the section is no different from the previous bylaw. It reads: “The Town of Maple Creek will only consider removing a boulevard tree if in the opinion of the Town of Maple Creek, upon the advice of a tree maintenance professional, the boulevard tree poses an imminent threat to public safety, property safety, or the overall health and wellbeing of other trees (ie: Diseased trees) …”
However, the new bylaw includes the following extra words in the section: “… or when the location of the existing tree negatively affects approved building permits on property adjacent to the existing tree.”
The amended bylaw first came before Council on July 26, when it passed its first two readings. It was then tabled after a resolution to give it a third reading was defeated.
Barry Elliott, chief administrative officer, said the amendment amounted to a small revision to the existing bylaw. He said the additional clause did not impose an obligation on Council. Under the bylaw, Council was only being asked to “consider” removing a boulevard tree in certain conditions.
“You have discretion throughout,” he told councillors.
Teichroeb, who was supportive of the bylaw overall, said she didn’t understand the purpose of the extra wording.
“I feel it just muddies the waters,” she said, adding: “I think putting this in here makes people assume they can build and if something is in the way it can come down.”
Teichroeb said Maple Creek was proud of its canopies, which needed to be protected.
At its next meeting on Tuesday, August 23, Council considered the issue again when the bylaw was presented for its third reading.
The third reading was carried and adopted, with Teichroeb objecting. On September 13, the bylaw came before Council again, this time with a further amendment, requiring the Town to replace trees it removes.
It was at this meeting that Teichroeb’s resignation was announced.