Editorial: Tree protection bylaw for North Cowichan overdue

One of the things that the most desirable neighbourhoods often share in various communities is trees

One of the things that the most desirable neighbourhoods often share in various communities is trees. Big, mature, stately trees that speak of a neighbourhood’s pedigree and longevity.

We’ve all seen them — residential streets lined with big elms, oaks or chestnut trees, providing a haven for birds and squirrels, but also for people to stroll beneath their shade. Or the joyous beauty of cherry or dogwood trees in full spring flower, adding a sweet, delicate scent to air that is all too often clogged with car exhaust.

It’s not just about looks. They contribute to our health. Trees provide instant greenspace, cleaning the air we breathe and calming our stress with their very presence.

In North Cowichan, there is still no protection for trees. In 2016 a huge outcry over a maple tree at the Cowichan Community Centre that was cut to make way for new parking lot designs had residents asking for some kind of tree protection bylaw so that there would be a process to protect the community’s iconic trees in the future. But nothing has come of it. Several years later and here we are, with still nary a tree protection bylaw in sight.

A new petition has now come to North Cowichan council, once again asking for the municipality to develop one. We hope that council will take the suggestion to heart and finally come up with something.

Cynthia Montgomery, who brought the petition to council, argues that protecting our community’s trees is vital not only for the desirable qualities they provide that are listed about, but also because they can mitigate flooding, create windbreaks, and prevent erosion and landslides. These are all very important considerations, especially when you consider that people (not in Cowichan, fortunately) have lost their homes when denuded hillsides bereft of vegetation have slid down onto structures.

So for both emotional and practical reasons, a tree protection bylaw of some kind makes sense.

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