DOWNED TREES Stumps remain where trees once stood at the edge of the Woodbridge Nature Preserve in Summerland. The municipality is now considering potential avenues of recourse and ways to mitigate the environmental impact from the removal of these trees. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland council, staff pursue recourse after unauthorized tree removal

Trees were cut down at edge of Woodbridge Nature Preserve in Summerland

After trees were removed from a nature preserve without authorization, municipal staff will pursue avenues of recourse and will meet with a business to mitigate the environmental impact from this incident.

In August, trees were removed from the edge of the Woodbridge Nature Preserve in Trout Creek, near the site where a new home is under construction.

The preserve, off Nixon Road, was officially dedicated in December, 2017. The site is marked with a sign and a fence along a portion of the preserve.

It was set up as a habitat for Lewis’s woodpecker and the screech owl.

The population of the woodpecker is declining with fewer than 1,000 birds remaining in Canada. These birds nest in old cottonwood trees. When these trees rot from the inside, they provide a shelter for the woodpeckers. Screech owls also prefer the same habitat.

Members of the Woodbridge family, who donated the land for the preserve, were devastated by the unauthorized removal of the trees.

“I don’t want things like this to happen anymore,” Kolyn Woodbridge said during a special meeting of council on Sept. 6.

At that meeting, Dennis Apchin of Apchin Design Corporation apologized to the Woodbridge family for the tree removal.

He said the trees were removed because of safety concerns, but he would be willing to replant the trees to take other measures to make restitution.

“It was because of the trees that my client bought the property,” he said. “We were trying to follow protocol.”

At the meeting, others said there is confusion about tree removal policies in Summerland.

“Obviously, it’s not clear what the protocols are in our town,” said Sharon Mansiere.

Members of council and municipal staff also believe a proper policy is needed.

“We need a written policy,” said Coun. Janet Peake. “That has been a lack on our part.”

Coun. Richard Barkwill said tree protection in Summerland is relatively new and a s a result, information is needed.

Linda Tynan, chief administrative officer for the municipality, said the tree removal had not been authorized.

“The developers did not have permission from the district,” she said.

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