Kelowna council adopts bylaw modifications to raised defend timber in delicate areas

On Monday, the city adopted changes to the city’s tree protection bylaw in an effort to regulate the removal and replacement of trees in riparian and environmentally sensitive sloped areas.

According to city staff, who were first instructed to begin this process in May, the core intent of the bylaw remains unchanged.

It continues to define trees as protected when they are in riparian management areas (RMA), growing on slopes exceeding 30% or 15 meters from waterways.

Jennifer Miles, environmental coordinator, said the amendments presented on Monday aim to update terminology to align with the 2040 Official Community Plan and the recently updated zoning bylaw.

Miles explains that the first amendment will introduce a smaller minimum size to increase the number of trees considered protected.

Another text amendment includes evidence providing that a hazardous tree needs to be removed from a sensitive area. Replacement trees will also be required in the future.

Additionally, applications to remove trees in sensitive areas will only be permitted for hazardous trees.

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<p>“Staff already emphasize this when receiving tree cutting applications in environmentally sensitive areas but we did not have the enforcement backing of a bylaw,” explains Miles.</p>
<p>However, invasive species and wildfire mitigation pruning are exempt from removal permit requirements, explains the report that went to council on Monday.</p>
<p>Another amendment includes a new replacement formula which is meant to support the expansion of the city’s tree canopy.</p>
<p>The formula is based on the size of the hazard tree removed;  the bigger the tree, the more replacement trees required.  As many as eight trees may be required to replace larger trees.</p>
<p>Miles says another change involved text amendments to better protect trees in non-disturbance areas near construction sites and even in the downtown area.</p>
<p>Finally, Miles said that staff will work to raise awareness about the changes with the public.</p>
<p>City staff will be requesting a new staff position in the near future to support the increased inspection requirements that will come with these bylaw requirements. </p>
<p>A new bylaw covering tree protection in more depth is anticipated to be forwarded to city council in the next year or by 2024.</p>
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