Councillors may seek a say in how homeowners deal with trees on their property
Some members of Edmonton’s City Council are looking for a change to provincial legislation that would make property owners in the city get a permit, before cutting down trees on their property.
The city plans to ask the provincial government to add a line in the Municipal Government Act that would give the municipality power to create a bylaw about trees.
Mayor Don Iveson likened any potential bylaws to other regulations placed on homeowners and maintenance of their property.
“Just as we regulate a number of things on private property like the size of a dwelling itself, that you have to mow your lawn,” Iveson said. “There’s a variety of different things that the city does have sway over, I think it’s perfectly reasonable.”
The mayor continued: “Nobody is saying that nobody can ever take down a tree, it’s just saying that you might have to make the case in the event that it’s a significant tree.”
For many councillors, they’re concerned about infill developments and making sure healthy trees aren’t coming down for construction, unless they need to.
“If it completely impedes the development or redevelopment of a property, that would seem to be a reasonable case for taking it down,” Iveson said.
Councillor Bryan Anderson agrees with the concept of keeping an eye on developers, but says bylaws over trees on private property might go too far.
“I can support incentivizing infill projects to keep larger trees because it takes so long to grow back,” Anderson said.
“An individual citizen should have private property rights that allow him to deal with his yard in a way that he believes is important.”
So far, the idea is in the early stages, and there is no guarantee a bylaw will be created. Even if the change is made to the Municipal Government Act, it could take some time for a bylaw to go into effect.
Anderson said he’s looking forward to debating the idea.
“That debate will happen, and the argument about protecting private property rights should be brought forward and put on the table at that time,” Anderson said.
The review of the Municipal Government Act is expected back, with an answer for Council later in 2016.
With files from Breanna Karstens-Smith