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County will not have a tree-cutting bylaw


Trees

The inability to enforce a tree-cutting by-law means a change of direction for the County of Essex when it comes to what it calls a Natural Heritage Areas Preservation By-law.


At last week’s county council meeting, manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger said that neither the county nor individual municipalities are in the position, at this time to enforce tree cutting bylaws and instead, suggested a review of the feasibility of a site alteration to the county’s Official Plan.


“An additional policy can be drafted into the county’s official plan which states that as any part of the background studies or development proposal, an inventory and preservation plan be required,” said Belanger.


A new policy in the Official Plan could come forth in the future which would require every new home to have at least two new indigenous trees planted and any trees that are cut down due to disease must be replaced.


“The lower municipalities agree that we don’t have enough trees in the area,” said Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara.


Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Kirk Walstedt said that in the past a tree-cutting by-law had a lot of push back from property owners.


“I think we will save wood lots with this approval rather than being heavy-handed by having a by-law that makes it impossible to cut down trees on private property,” said Walstedt.


The county and the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) have been working together on a Clean Water Clean Green Spaces program for about 20 years and all the local municipalities have been contributing financially to the program.


However, at Wednesday night’s meeting, ERCA CAO Tim Byrne said that changes to the province’s Bill 23 means that the conservation authorities cannot levy directly the municipalities. Byrne said that five local municipalities continue to support the program except for Windsor and Kingsville.


“We are looking forward to continual conversation with the important venture. A few dollars from each municipality goes a long way,” said Byrne.


Patricia McGorman is the president of the Canada Land Trust which preserves natural areas. She was at the meeting and told county council that while the United Nations strives for as much as 12 per cent tree coverage, Essex County only has about three percent.


“What we have here in Essex County is very rare because we are part of the Carolina life zone,” said McGorman.


McGorman pointed out that there are unique types of soil and weather patterns in the region which contributes to a decline in growth and that the county is not moving fast enough to preserve natural areas.

County will not have a tree-cutting bylaw

By Fred Groves

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