Comox council moved a step closer to allowing a new type of infill development in the town, but councillors debated Wednesday the importance of tree replacement for the process.
At the previous committee of the whole meeting, council approved a variety of recommendations for staff to prepare an Official Community Plan amendment bylaw to create a new development permit area for coach houses.
Coun. Maureen Swift inquired last month about the tree retention recommendation to replace one tree on a property if required to remove a tree more than 20 centimetres in diameter to obtain the maximum coach house size.
She noted again the recommendation is “impractical … and could discourage this type of investment (for homeowners).”
“I’m not against trees, but we should let the owners determine what is best for their property,” she added.
Mayor Paul Ives said it was his understanding the recommendation was not to replace a fir for a fir, or a maple for a maple, but to work with staff and homeowners to determine what tree might work best for a given space.
Coun. Ken Grant suggested a motion which would include no net loss of trees, but if a homeowner did not want to replace a tree, they could pay into a town tree fund, which he suggested could be $100.
“This is a very complex issue. We just invested a lot of money into our urban forest plan,” replied Coun. Barbara Price. “We have a tree cover that may communities aspire to … I think it’s far more complicated than $100.”
An amended motion to bylaw 1752 of the Official Community Plan was approved for first and second reading, and a public hearing will be scheduled for September.