Just what should be considered a significant tree worth protecting in Delta?
The issue was raised during council’s discussion Dec. 13 on a zoning amendment application to allow a subdivision of two properties at 7458 and 7468 115 Street into four, single-detached residential lots.
There is already a dwelling currently under construction on the north portion of one of the lots.
A planning department report notes there are 19 trees on the site, 16 of which are proposed to be removed including 14 located within the proposed building footprints.
Many of the trees within the building footprints are in moderate to poor condition, a staff report notes.
For the 32 replacement trees required, the owners are proposing to plant 12 replacement trees and provide cash-in-lieu for 20 trees.
The owners would also be required to provide tree retention and replacement security, cash-in-lieu of tree replacement and enter into a tree retention and replacement restrictive covenant.
Coun. Jeannie Kanakos wondered whether the applicants could explore with city staff other options in order to retain significant trees at the site.
Council agreed to hold off granting preliminary approval and sending the application to a public hearing until their next meeting in January.
Also on the same council agenda was final approval of Delta’s updated tree protection bylaw.
Approved by council, those amendments are supposed to be based on best practices found in bylaws in other cities, as well as comments from the public, staff and council.
Staff are also reviewing internal practices when it comes to arborist reports, particularly those by applicants seeking the removal of large diameter and/or a significant number of trees.
Staff will obtain independent, Delta-initiated arborist reports when deemed warranted to analyze those reports.
Efforts have been made to balance the rights of property owners with the interests of the city and community in retaining trees, the report notes.
The revisions also take into consideration situations in which certain trees may no longer be desirable to retain, such as when a tree poses a hazard or is inappropriate for its location.
Not included in the revised bylaw was consideration of significant trees, a topic that is to come back in a separate upcoming report to council in early 2022.
The report on the revised bylaw notes staff would come back with a more fulsome discussion and detailed recommendations for so-called significant trees, which are trees that are considered to be special for reasons other than a large size.
The report also notes staff intend to focus on protection of significant public trees by identifying special trees in the city and eventually listing them in the bylaw.
A previous staff report, recommending consideration of significant trees be deferred, noted, “The original proposed amendment was to create a new definition in the bylaw for a ‘Significant Tree’, defined as being ‘of significant value to the community because of special characteristics such as size, age, uniqueness of species, uniqueness of ecosystem, or heritage or landmark value’, and to enhance protection for these trees. While residents were generally supportive of giving extra protection to special trees, some expressed concern and confusion around the details of the proposed amendments relating to Significant Trees,” that report notes.