• John Jantak

NDIP working on new tree cutting policy


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot resident Barbara Etcovitch says elected officials could have done more to preserve the wooded area as an environmental buffer zone between her property and a neighbouring development.

Barbara Etcovitch is hopeful a new environmental policy being drafted by the Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot (NDIP) council will help to ensure more of the town’s mature trees are preserved.

Etcovitch first contacted The Journal last December to complain about a slew of mature trees that were clear-cut to make way for a new house next to her townhouse condo property. She feels the town could have done something to preserve the wooded area as an environmental buffer zone between the two properties.

Mayor Danie Deschênes said at the time there was nothing the town could have done to save the trees because they were on private property. But that could change in the future as council works to draft a new environmental policy geared to preserving the town’s green spaces as much as possible.

Deschênes is aware of how sensitive the issue has become for residents who want their municipalities to protect their remaining trees and green spaces as much as possible.

“Some citizens are really annoyed with the fact that contractors and owners cut trees. I think the city, council and I are very sensitive in terms of protecting the trees that we can. And if we can’t protect them, we have to develop a way to plant new trees and ensure that Notre-Dame remains a green city. This is what we’re aiming for,” said Deschênes.

The mayor said the city is walking a fine line between landowners and developers who want unrestricted access to their properties and people who want to preserve more environmental spaces. Deschênes is also aware that landowners do not always check with the city regarding restrictions that are in place when it comes to cutting down mature trees.

“I think most towns have these issues,” said Deschênes. “We are working on a policy that will be a lot tougher on new builders in terms of protecting trees. We’re looking at putting in a system where owners would pay for cutting trees even if it’s for your own house that’s going to be built there.

“It’s still a work in progress. We’re still meeting about that. If you cut down trees, either you replant or pay into an environment fund that goes to the city to be able to replant new trees. At this point, people are cutting trees and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Deschênes added.

If adopted, the new regulations would require builders to pay for the number of trees that are cut down in new developments. “There will be money that will be paid to the city that will be put in a fund specifically for trees. It will allow us to replant trees either in that sector or other areas of the city,” said Deschênes.

“The feedback that I get from citizens when we talk about this is that they’re relieved we’re not going to let this go. We’re doing the opposite. We’ve talked about it at council last month. The new regulations should be in place by the end of summer,” said Deschênes.

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