I have had many residents reach out regarding the Tree Protection By-Law. I am aware that there is a lot of information out there and in this post I am providing some facts.
Since being the Councillor for Kanata-North I have worked tirelessly to protect, preserve, and grow the tree canopy and the number of trees in our community. For example, in 2019 we planted 1,120 new trees right here in our community and continue to explore ways to further grow this number.
When development applications cross my desk I have always worked with City staff and developers to ensure that at the earliest opportunity the preservation of the maximum number of trees is at the forefront of the conversations. I believe strongly that protecting trees and growing the tree canopy is key and our greenspaces is what makes our community so special.
Specifically, on the Tree By-law report there are some important considerations and distinctions I wanted to ensure your aware of:
- In January I was happy to support the report that staff presented that called for the protection of trees with a diameter of 50 cm or greater. The by-law, as approved, was intended to have a two phased approach. Phase 1 was approved in January 2020, keeping the distinctive tree diameter, as it has been in the previous tree by-law, at 50 cm. Phase 2 of the by-law would have been presented to Committee and Council this fall, and staff planned to recommend a reduction in the diameter of distinctive trees within the inner urban area to 30cm. As the implementation of phase 1(May 1, 2020) was delayed due to the pandemic, a new implementation date of January 1, 2021 was approved through a council motion this summer which accelerated the reduction of the distinctive tree size to come into effect as of the new implementation date.
- In Kanata North, most development is coming in through Planning Act applications; site plans and plans of subdivision. Through that process, Tree Conservation Reports and Landscape Plans are submitted. These are the plans that I look at when assessing what type of protections and balance we can achieve for any given application. The City has several Foresters and Environmental Planners who review those applications, make recommendations for tree retention and protection and review the tree planting plans to ensure that adequate trees are planted in compensation for those removed. For properties >1 hectare and properties that are undergoing one of the above noted Planning Act applications, a permit is required to remove any tree 10 cm in diameter or greater. Tree permits are not issued until the site has been planned with careful consideration for tree retention and tree planting. For all those types of applications, trees 10 cm in diameter or greater are considered. This process has been in place since June 2009.
- The report that was released two weeks ago and will be discussed at Committee tomorrow is implementing housekeeping changes to ensure that the Tree Protection By-law continues to progress and is ready for implementation. As promised, budget 2021 does allocate the required funding to make the Tree Protection By-law a reality.
- There are no reductions being contemplated in the report that will be coming to Committee. Rather, due to the positive decrease in diameter requirements to 30 cm from 50 cm, City staff are proposing to add a compensation ratio for smaller distinctive trees from 30-49 cm. This needs to be done as this was not contemplated in the original report in January. Again, City staff is looking at every scenario and designing an approach to protect trees and the tree canopy while balancing development.
I am excited by the progress of this work. As you can tell, City staff have contemplated the protection of trees in various scenarios and various tools exists for that purpose. This is not a discussion between various communities. It is about using the right policy and tools in the right communities.
Additionally, I will continue to speak with City staff on how we can further work together to protect trees while balancing development in Kanata North. I am happy to see the commitment from the City as it invests in tree protection. Since being Councillor for Kanata-North my team and I have worked tirelessly to protect, preserve, and grow the tree canopy and the number of trees in our community.
I look forward to continuing to follow the discussion as it progresses through Committee and Council and ask that you support the Tree By-Law Report.