Welland city staff want tree bylaw notice of motion axed

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Welland City officials want City Council to scrap Borough Council 6. Bonnie Fokkens’ tree rescue statute motion is on Tuesday’s agenda.

It urges workers to contact the Ontario Urban Forest Council and draft a by-law to protect the city’s canopy by July 11.

She would also like to ask the city’s green advisory board for an opinion, if it has been set up by then.

Fokkens has been calling for a statute to protect the city’s tree canopy across the city since 2018, when she met with staff to draft a motion notice.

At that meeting, she discussed the loss of trees due to development, the importance of trees and conservation measures as stated in the official plan, and erosion along the banks of the Welland River due to tree felling.

At the time, templates of existing tree statutes were provided, as well as contacts from the Ontario Urban Forest Council who were willing to help staff.

A draft charter in 2019 was delayed after the council agreed to consultation with the public, authorities and stakeholders.

A consultation report was submitted in 2020, but it was found that Fokkens’ original application notice was not complete and a staff report was required.

The issue has been on the agenda ever since, and the councilwoman is bringing it up again with her new motion.

A memo from Grant Munday, the city’s director of planning and development services, is on Tuesday’s agenda, urging the council not to agree to Fokkens’ latest application.

“The main reason for this is that the city already has a planned approach to urban forestry. “We are currently nearing the final stages of updating the city’s official plan and developing city forestry policies,” Munday’s memo said.

The guidelines are developed by SGL Planning and Design Inc. together with GEI Consultants – Savanta Division and UrbanMetrics Inc.

“Staff recognize the importance and benefits of urban forestry and the upgrading of the city, but a comprehensive plan must first be created,” read Monday’s memo.

It said extensive work had been completed, including background research, public and stakeholder consultations, and draft guidelines. It adds that the Green Advisory Committee will be consulted once it is formed.

The memo said any proposed urban forestry initiative must take into account budgetary considerations, such as budgeting for additional trees to be planted and maintained on city-owned land and road grants in excess of currently budgeted amounts.

Tree planting would require additional staff or service contracts, as well as vehicles and equipment for law enforcement officials. Legal costs would need to be considered, as would the purchase of satellite imagery and other mapping to monitor the city’s tree canopy.

The City Council begins with a closed session at 6:45 p.m., followed by the open session, which can be viewed via livestream at www.welland.ca/Council/LiveStream.asp or in person at 60 East Main St.

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