City Trees: Whose chopping business are they?

Cut down a backyard tree in Vancouver and city hall will come after you. A proposed “no-cause tree removal” for the city intends to stem the tide of urban forest destruction, according to Malcolm Bromley, Vancouver Park Board general manager. He says the loss of 23,000 healthy trees since 1996 is an unacceptable blow to maintaining the city’s tree canopy – which apparently has dropped from 22.5% to 18%.

Vancouver Sun columnist Shelley Fralic wonders here today “what twig that council is smoking”. Shelley says: “Trees. We stand in awe of their beauty and utility, their utter magnificence. But trees aren’t the boss of us. Sometimes, we need to fell them, for firewood or to build a house or because we’re in the resource business, or because they’re dangerous or diseased or just plain ugly. Sometimes, they stand in the way of progress. Sometimes, people, we forget that trees are just trees. They grow, they fall down, get chopped up or die of old age, millions of them all around us, and have for thousands of years, a cycle that begins anew with each seed floating on the wind.”

Shelley adds: “.. surely a democracy dictates that a homeowner shouldn’t be required by law to plant trees or keep trees that he or she doesn’t want? Mr. Bromley, what’s next? If I want to take out my pain-in-the arse water-sucking lawn and replace it with artificial turf or river rocks, is that OK with you? And please tell me why developers, both residential and commercial, seem to clearcut urban trees with what seems like more abandon than governance in our rush to densification? Oh, and if your title is boss of public parks, why are you trespassing on my private property? My yard. My trees. Mind your own business.”
All this according to Shelley Fralic.

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