Letter: Hire arborist, boost fines for cutting protected trees

I suggest fines of $10,000 per damaged or killed tree

Hire arborist, boost fines for cutting protected trees

Dear mayor and councillors:

I heard council is accepting input regarding updates to our greatly respected, timely tree-protection bylaw.

I now urge council to install far heavier fines for ignorant folks cutting public and private trees without a city permit.

I suggest fines of $10,000 per damaged or killed tree beyond a girth prescribed by other like-minded communities. Perhaps a girth of 12-14 inches.

That diameter bespeaks a healthy tree affording residents, wildlife and visitors shade and habitat, respectively.

I also urge the city to hire a full-time certified arborist to manage, catalogue, advise about, and care for Duncan’s precious trees — especially our beloved heritage trees such as those sturdy oaks in Charles Hoey Park.

Beside hefty fines for cutting or willfully damaging Duncan’s trees, I also urge council to legally seek jail time for scofflaws affecting our trees by poisoning, ‘banding’, or affecting vital root systems.

These ideas may seem extreme but we are in extreme times with climate change, sprawl, infrastructure upgrades, pests, and careless residents harming our threatened trees.

Far too many trees have already been lost in Duncan.

These points must be communicated to educate local residents and developers about how seriously council views tree preservation and protection.

I applaud council’s demand for planting two trees — or more — for each tree being fallen if it was dead, dangerous or dying.

I urge council’s arborist to ensure trees planted are attractive, hearty native species with better survival rates than some non-native ornamentals wrongly planted in the past.

Planting such native species will allow our cash-strapped council to duck costly tree-removal bills.

Perhaps council can start an adopt-a-tree program, or tree-naming program to create brand identity for our trees and Duncan’s proactive green plans.

Duncan’s tough stand will hopefully attract more tourists, wildlife, and green development. That could further foster a crucial arts-driven pedestrian ambience — with a vigorous program of bulbs, bushes, banners, benches and buskers — in Totem Town.

I also hope council’s tree-conscious wisdom serves as a model for our other local governments lacking Duncan’s vision to institute legal tree protection while more trees were tragically cut.

Peter W. Rusland

North Cowichan