Fine to tree pruner was too low

Dear editor,

Comox residents may want to consider whether town council’s fining of Dr. Toews’ tree pruning was fair to the community.  The issue is not if Mr. Toews is a nice person, but whether Comox council’s decision met North American municipal standards. Judge for yourselves.

A short survey of similar recorded cases tells us otherwise:

• 2003 (Seattle, 3 trees) $30K (US) = $40K CDN

• 2006 ( Ajax Ontario, 100 trees) $50K. (Mayor and council wanted $535K)

• 2007 (Glendale, California, 13 trees) $347,600 (US) = $417,120 (CDN)

• 2012 (Surrey BC, 39 trees) $175K

• 2015 (Atlanta, 2 oaks) $11,400K (US) =  $14250(CDN)

• Oct. 2016 (Toronto, 40 trees)  $155K plus charges pending under the Municipal Code and Provincial Offences Act seeking $100K per tree.  (replant 200 trees).

The average fine per tree is $9,389.76. The median is $4487.18. Comox council’s $10K fine for illegal “pruning” of 22 trees, is actually only $3,800. ($6,200 is tax-deductible development expenses)  That’s either $426 or $172 per tree. This makes it the lowest recorded fine in North America.

These rates are not driven by extreme environmentalism. Toronto’s aptly-named Mayor John Tory, is a well-known Progressive Conservative, who supports responsible community standards. Toronto protects its greenways and heritage at $3,875 per tree. Laws and standards are not written to favour special interests and friends, but enforced to protect community interests.

As pointed out in local media, Dr. Toews received “a sympathetic hearing from council.” Indeed, he should have from councillors and mayor who recently wilfully destroyed national heritage at Baybrook, to favour an exclusive group, in spite of pleas from Heritage BC and the National Trust.

Institutional vandalism can only passively encourage more vandalism. This same council now persists in seeking to evade its responsibilities as community trustees, and has set the lowest community environmental tree standards in North America.

I should add: Garry oaks have a 75 per cent mortality rate. Someone who damages one tree should replant four, that is 88 trees, not the recommended eight.

This council’s acts and words only bring disrespect to the institution.

Loys Maingon

Comox

 

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