Ecology Ottawa urges strengthening of Tree Protection Bylaw in light of Tewin clear-cutting

Ecology Ottawa was co-signatory to a letter sent to Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and the rest of City Council about the Tree Protection Bylaw. This letter followed the discussion at a meeting of the City's Environment and Climate Change Committee sparked by the clear-cutting of over 70 hectares of forested Tewin lands.

The letter contains several recommendations by way of strengthening the City's Tree Protection Bylaw. The Bylaw should have prevented and penalized this most egregious case of tree destruction, but somehow City staff interpreted the Bylaw as permitting it.

With the other co-signatores, we call on City Council to agree with the direction that the Environment and Climate Change Committee gave to staffnamely, to explore changes to the Bylaw to prevent future such destruction, and to refer the Tewin clear-cutting decision to the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board.

We also call for

  • the Tree Protection Bylaw to focus on urban and periurban areas
  • an acceleration of work to protect trees in the periurban area
  • a plan for compensating the Carlsbad Springs community for this devastating loss of their trees

We wrote this letter in anticipation of City Council's meeting on April 12, at which they will discuss this matter. Please join us and contact your councillor, asking them to strengthen the protection of trees in our city!

Please read the entire letter below.

_____________________________________

April 10, 2023

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe & City Councillors 110 Laurier Ave West
Ottawa, ON
K1P 1J1

Re: Tewin clear cut of 25,000+ trees

Dear Mayor and Council,

The recent deforestation of land bordering the proposed Tewin development in east Ottawa prompted a detailed discussion at the March 21 meeting of the Environment and Climate Change Committee. Many in Ottawa are shocked that the Tree Protection Bylaw did not prevent the clear cutting of 25,000 trees just outside the urban boundary in an area covered by the bylaw.

We support the directions given to staff by the Committee and ask that Council agree. The report says:

  1. “Direct staff to investigate and report back on potential changes to Exemption 82 (7) of the City’s Tree Protection By-law to require landowners obtain a formal exemption with evidence provided and communicate with neighbours, the local City Councillor and City staff prior to tree removals including where a permit is not required by By-law (e.g. where the activity is exempt from the provisions of By-law).
  2. That the tree cutting incident near Tewin lands be referred to the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board.”

The reference to the Normal Farm Practices Board, as per Section 6 of the Farming and Food Production Protection Act, must explicitly address whether the clear-cutting was carried on as part of an agricultural operation, and that the City’s interpretation of the non-application of its tree bylaw in this instance is consistent with that Act.

In addition, we ask that staff be given direction to look closely at how and why the Tree Protection By-law failed to prevent this significant deforestation. As regards avoiding this in the future, we urge the City to accelerate the work on tree protection in the periurban area (lands adjacent to the new urban boundary), which is already in staff’s approved work plan, ahead of any scheduled full revision of the Tree Protection Bylaw for the urban areas of Ottawa. We recognize and agree that the Tree Protection Bylaw should remain focused on the urban and peri-urban area only, and that this is not relevant to the rural area. New thinking is required regarding appropriate incentives for the protection of wetlands and other rural lands.

We also need to see action on how the community will be compensated for this massive loss of trees. Policy 4.8.1.5 in the new Official Plan specifies that the City shall take a no net loss approach with respect to evaluated wetlands deemed not provincially significant and forest cover outside the urban area and designated villages. How will the City ensure there is no net loss resulting from this particular deforestation? We hope to see this in the Council deliberations in addition to the directions given by the Committee.

We encourage Council and staff to treat all of the above urgently and as a matter of primary importance for the protection of the natural assets of Ottawa.

Sincerely,

Andrea Sissons, Rural Woodlands Ottawa

Ole Hendrickson, Chair, National Conservation Committee, Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Alice Irene Whittaker, Executive Director, Ecology Ottawa

Paul Johanis, Chair, Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital

Angela Keller-Herzog, Executive Director, CAFES Ottawa

Peter Croal, Citizen Climate Counsel

Donna DuBreuil, President, Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre

Moe Garahan, Executive Director, Just Food

Daniel Buckles, Animator, Peoples Official

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