‘Fancy talk and pretty words;’ Port Moody urged to quicken pace on tree protection

This article has been corrected to reflect that the city’s planned bylaw update is a lower priority than the forest management strategy.

It’s an effort to see Port Moody for the trees.

Nearly two years after calling for a bylaw update intended to save Port Moody trees, council unanimously endorsed a public engagement strategy around urban forest management Tuesday – albeit with some frustration.

“The frustration in this is that nothing’s happened since we gave that direction two years ago,” said Coun. Meghan Lahti.

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Both the bylaw update and the forest management strategy are moving forward, assured Port Moody city manager Tim Savoie.

“We certainly are not ignoring council’s direction,” Savoie said. However, he explained that the forest strategy is a higher priority than the bylaw update.

The city’s tree bylaw is replete with “flaws and grey areas,” according to council watcher Hazel Mason, who said she’s been pushing for stricter bylaws since 2007.

“Let’s stop the fancy talk and pretty words and get something done,” Mason said.

The strategy

The strategy is meant to guide the city’s long-term protection and management of Port Moody’s trees, creating: “a resilient urban forest on both public and private land,” according to the report. Following two rounds of public engagement including workshops, surveys, and open house events, the strategy is slated to be complete in early 2023.

According to the most recent assessment, Port Moody’s tree canopy covers about 55 percent of the city.

“It’s critical for keeping our community safe in these extreme weather events we keep seeing,” said Coun. Amy Lubik.

However, the city report also warns that trees can be a “wildfire or windthrow risk,” particularly in the areas where development nudges up to native forest, the report noted.

Following a motion from Lubik, council unanimously endorsed the forest management strategy with the understanding the strategy includes the tree protection bylaw update.

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