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OPINION: Sarnia doesn’t need a restrictive tree bylaw. Here’s why

Published on

Tom Tonen

Last summer I happened to hear a radio snippet of Mayor Mike Bradley contemplating the need for a tree bylaw.

Tom Tonen
Tom Tonen

Being a property owner and having had my own encounter with a problem tree, I took to the Internet, just to see what Toronto already has in place and to peek into what our community’s future may hold.

What I found was appalling, and I strongly encourage every property owner to go online and read this legalese for himself or herself.

Now, I don’t know about you, but my home and property are the single largest financial investment of my life and I protect this investment like any other, through maintenance, upkeep and prudent management. When my investment gets exposed to risk or possible liability, I take action to remove my exposure.

So what does all of this have to do with a tree bylaw?

Well, when a tree on your property (most likely placed there by a former owner and for which you are 100% responsible) starts becoming a towering menace that threatens buildings, infrastructure and even personal safety, under a tree bylaw you would no longer have the latitude to deal with it yourself.

Instead, you would be placed squarely at the mercy of City Hall. What was once a simple exercise would become a time-consuming and bureaucratic cluster “mess” of red tape, inspections, reports, approvals and on and on, not to mention the added cost.

And don’t even ask about removing a tree from a vacant lot to build your dream home. Just plan for an additional 10% on your mortgage.

After an article appeared in The Journal about the proposed tree bylaw, letter writer Mark Nicholson endorsed the concept, saying Sarnia should have a 30% tree canopy instead of the current 9%.

I would respond by saying that when humans are involved, there is always a collision between theory and reality.

Yes, it sure would be nice to have a 30% tree canopy covering the city. But let’s show some consideration for individual property owners who are only trying to protect what’s theirs, not launch a full frontal assault on nature.

What’s the answer? Look to the nature trail in Canatara Park. It has been around forever and people drive for miles just to go there for a walk.

Now, think of all the clear-cut and unused parkland in the city. Couldn’t some of that be converted to “natural areas?”

In summary, we do not need a tree bylaw imposed on this community just because some fear the loss of a few trees.

I sincerely hope that when City Council addresses this issue they do so with some innovative and forward thinking, and not just impose more restrictions on its constituents.

It’s time to get involved and let council members know how you feel.

Tom Tonen is a retired shift worker from Imperial Oil

 

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