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Town wants your say on hot topic: How do we protect trees on private property?

The Town of Newmarket is hosting iWonder: reSTORYing Nature Saturday, Oct. 5 to get your feedback on its proposed tree bylaw and climate change strategy
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File photo/Kim Champion/NewmarketToday

Trees have so far this year figured prominently in the news in Newmarket. Whether it be concerns over the town’s oldest heritage tree in danger of dying, clear-cutting of land to make way for sewage system upgrades, development, or the town’s lack of a tree protection bylaw on private property, citizens have had a lot to say.

On Saturday, Oct. 5, residents interested in contributing their thoughts on the town’s draft tree bylaw can do so at a public meeting billed as iWonder: reSTORYing Nature.

It will be held at the Robert N. Shelton Operations Centre, 1275 Maple Hill Court, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In addition to adding your feedback on several options the town is considering regarding the protection of trees on private property, the family-friendly event will provide hands-on activities to get participants thinking about the environment and, in particular, climate change.

All feedback will help shape the town’s Climate Change Strategy.

Here’s what you can do at the iWonder event:

  • Test drive electric cars
  • Create fairy and elf boxes for trees that you want to protect
  • Participate in a storytime session with Mother Earth
  • Provide your feedback on climate change and the tree protection bylaw
  • Learn more about the town’s environmentally friendly initiatives such as low-impact development and flood mitigation, stormwater management, active transportation plan, and Bee City, which focuses on the town’s leadership in promoting pollinator bees
  • Go on a tour of the town’s 65,000-square foot, LEED-silver standard, environmentally friendly Operations Centre

At the town’s online engagement website, Hey Newmarket, there are already 17 comments from residents offering their thoughts on the best way to protect trees on private property.

“I have noticed no reluctance on either the town’s, or the region’s part, to cut down trees. I have also seen several trees killed by salt, on streets and private property,” wrote Eric Smith. “Both the town and the region make a half-baked attempt at replants with what I would consider weed trees which, at best, have limited lifespans. They should be replaced with indigenous species. I also note that most of the town's replants die within a year or two.”

“Private property tree removal should depend on several factors. For example, if they are blocking sightlines, or damaged by ice or wind, etc. But, at the end of the day, private property is just that. PRIVATE. Not the town's business, unless the tree in question has been deemed heritage,” Smith concluded.

A resident who identifies himself as Paul, said: “My neighbour has two large Norway maples planted near our property line. As a result, my yard is in constant shade and blocks my view of the sky. While I support controls on tree cutting, I hope any new bylaws would take into account the wishes of the property owner, with input of neighbours whose property is shaded or encroached by the tree.”

But opinion is divided as to what extent the town should go to protect local trees.

“When I was a child, I loved to gather the keys from the maple trees on our property. I would throw the keys up in the air and watch them turn into mini helicopters as they fell to the ground! I treasure these memories,” wrote a resident identified as Green Trees. “I am very worried about some of my fellow residents cutting down mature trees on their properties. We need to preserve as many trees as possible.” 

“Mature trees offer many benefits to us, including helping to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, thus helping to mitigate the effects of climate change,” they wrote. “I believe that we need a bylaw that requires property owners to apply to the town with the reasons they have for planning to cut down mature trees. The bylaw would have a valid list of reasons. The town would then decide on a case-by-case basis.”

For more information on the iWonder: reSTORYing event, visit here.


Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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