The Town of The Blue Mountains is seeking more public feedback about the controversial proposed tree preservation bylaw.
At its committee of the whole meeting on March 14, council accepted a staff report about the draft tree preservation bylaw that called for another public meeting on the matter. The previous council had deferred a decision on the bylaw until the new council elected in October could take office.
Staff recommended another public meeting in order to give the new council an opportunity to hear from the public on the matter. The draft bylaw has been in the works for some time and has generated significant public interest. When the proposed bylaw came to the previous council for consideration, some councillors criticized the approach the bylaw was taking and suggested it was casting too wide of a net.
Mayor Andrea Matrosovs pointed out that the proposed bylaw had changed and evolved over time.
“It’s not the same as it was back in 2019 when Coun. (Rob) Sampson first introduced this,” said the mayor.
CAO Shawn Everitt said while the proposed bylaw has been “stalled” staff have made great progress on the issue of tree preservation. Everitt said the town has seen success through pre-servicing development agreements in ensuring trees on properties that are to be developed are preserved.
“We’ve come a long way,” he said, adding that another public meeting would give the town a chance to show the public tools it’s using to preserve trees and tools it is considering for the bylaw. “It will allow us to hear, once again, what the real concerns are.”
Coun. Gail Ardiel said the bylaw needed to come to the town’s agriculture advisory committee for a full discussion.
“It’s very important for the agricultural community to realize they’re not going to be ignored,” said Ardiel.
During the discussion, staff reiterated that the proposed bylaw applies only to settlement areas and would not apply to agricultural/orchard lands. Everitt even suggested that the town needed to take more dramatic steps to highlight this fact by blacking out the rural areas on the mapping contained in the bylaw.
No date for the public engagement session for the bylaw was announced at the meeting.