A neighbourhood association in North Cowichan wants the municipality to encourage property owners and businesses to retain tree cover on their lands.
Cynthia Montgomery, from the Quamichan Lake Neighbourhood Association, reminded council at its meeting on May 17 that one of the objectives in North Cowichan’s new official community plan that was adopted last summer is to increase a healthy tree canopy in the city.
“The QLNA shares this objective and is again requesting North Cowichan enact a tree bylaw for that purpose,” she said. “There are many reasons to encourage the nurture of large and healthy trees in our residential areas.”
Montgomery said those reasons include that large and leafy trees cool the air as well as oxygenating and removing toxins from it; their roots hold the soil and can prevent erosion and landslides; and they add “refreshment and livability” to neighbourhoods.
She suggested that property owners could receive incentives from North Cowichan to retain their mature and healthy trees, and developers could be restricted from extreme clearing of trees on land that is being developed with strategies that could include some sort of incentives as well.
“It’s not our wish to stop development, but we suggest that developers’ methods might be encouraged to change,” Montgomery said. “The new OCP says the municipality will strive to prevent preemptive land clearing by updating the subdivision bylaw and the QLNA urges council to put this policy statement into its bylaw.”
Coun. Mike Caljouw asked Montgomery what kind of incentives does the association propose for property owners and businesses to retain tree canopies.
She said offering tax breaks that would depend upon the total area of tree canopy on a property could be one incentive.
“There might be other incentives as well that more creative minds could come up with,” Montgomery said.
Coun. Christopher Justice said the approach the association is proposing is based on positive objectives that, he believes, most people can get behind.
He said the OCP directs council to consider developing an urban forest strategy, which would require that the municipality determine how best to achieve the multiple objects and goals that are in the OCP and brought up by the QLNA.
“We will be considering this when we get to the implementation of the OCP, which is coming up pretty quickly,” Justice said.