City council puts some muscle behind the Climate Emergency statement.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

June 24th, 2019



Council has been at it for half a year and we are beginning to get a sense of what the key issues are for the council as a group and the individual members.

The Environment is very much a top of mind – we see it in decisions made that this council regrets and we see it in the way they have asked staff to include an environmental justification with every report they give council.

Parking is always an issue and getting more public parking in place is something the Capital Works people will do whenever there is an opportunity.

Council declared that there was a Climate Crisis and wanted to get that message out to the public and then underline the importance by making decisions that support the fact that there is a crisis.

They also got quite a bit braver on the tree bylaw that has been cluttering the agenda for a couple of years. The previous council did get to the point where they agreed to do a pilot project related to the cutting down of trees on private property in the Roseland community. It was to be a two year pilot.

The new council decided to bump that up from just the Roseland community to all of ward 4.   They directed the Director of Roads, Parks and Forestry to report back to the Committee of the Whole in October 2019 regarding the resources and logistics necessary to expand the Private Tree Bylaw Pilot to encompass all of ward 4, and city wide.

Parking lot CArolina and John June 2019

No trees and a surface that was not permeable built while the city debated the Climate Crisis.

When a report on a new very small parking lot at the intersection of Caroline and John Street was opened up – it is sort of attached to the parking lot just south of the No Frills Plaza, ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte wanted to know why the city was building parking lots that didn’t have permeable surfaces and trees scattered at least around the edges.

Council made it very clear to staff that this wasn’t to be done again.

Amy Schnurr, Executive Director of Burlington Green delegated at a Standing Committee on the environmental issues – fearing that she didn’t get the hearing she wanted she returned to the Council meeting and had this to say:

Schnurr said: “ I would like to follow up our June 10 delegation with some additional input regarding the proposed new reporting framework as well as the proposed city-wide tree bylaw. I did share additional input by email in recent days, but for the benefit of the public and in case you’ve not had a chance to read it, I thought it would be helpful to share it with you here this evening.

A tireless advocate for the environment - Amy Schnurr puts out the word every chance she gets - this time she wants your vote - and she isn't running for public office. Why doesn't she run for city council. Ward 6 would love her.

A tireless advocate for the environment – Amy Schnurr puts out the word every chance she gets.

1. “Regarding the issue of the proposed new and improved reporting framework for all city prepared reports. After delegating last week, Council discussion included comment on holding off on inclusion of social implications. I urge you to reconsider and proceed with adopting all three aspects (environmental, social, economic).

“Consistent with Mayor Meed-Ward & Councilor Sharman’s comments, all three aspects are interrelated, and none should be excluded, if you are to make decisions reflective of a ‘liveable ‘complete’ city. Get the complete framework what it needs to be from the start, shifting staff (and yourselves) to think holistically, effectively applying balanced research and reporting for ALL of your decision-making.

“The urgency of the current environmental crisis actually warrants a framework that recognizes that social and economic activity occurs within ecological limits, however moving to an environmental, social and economic framework for now, onboarding a carbon/GHG lens as soon after the climate action plan is presented in December, at least keeps the ball moving forward.

2. “Regarding the long-time proposed city-wide private property tree bylaw –it was concerning to hear comments at Committee that the issue of tree protection should be looked at later and /or separate from the climate action plan. There has also been comments from the city that we need to provide the community and developers with time to adjust to what a tree protection bylaw could like look. They will adjust. Many developers in Burlington also do business in neighbouring communities where there are safeguards for green infrastructure in place (tree bylaws) – and they adapt.

“Declaring a climate emergency and then not acting on a low-hanging fruit opportunity to take action sends mixed signals to the community. Respectful that processes take time and resources – the issue of protecting Burlington’s mature tree canopy is far from new. BurlingtonGreen and the community have been advocating for an effective, practical private property tree bylaw for more than a decade.

“In addition to planting more trees in Burlington (and fast), we must hold onto as many mature trees as we can. A bylaw is one tool in the box to aid in doing this, and it is an essential one. The city has a myriad of other bylaws in place to support the greater good, established without subject to years of debate, slow progress and pilots of “proof” before implementation. Science-based, human and environmental health-related issues such as tree protection must be addressed with greater urgency and decisiveness.

“Respectful that you aim to gather data and insights via a two-year test period in the Roseland Community, we would argue – to what end? What will you learn from it that exceeds the implications of leaving mature trees unprotected in other communities….. while the clock is ticking on action on climate? Each of your communities are unique and evidence from the Roseland pilot may in fact not be entirely applicable (or contradictory) to areas you serve anyway.

“ALL of you have mature trees in the communities you serve, and they are worthy of reasonable protection. BurlingtonGreen asks that you direct staff to report back on a plan of action (using the proposed social, environmental and economic framework), to proceed with establishing and resourcing a city-wide public property tree bylaw before 2020.”

TREES - Firs kept at 2366 New

Several majestic fir trees on the eastern edge of the development were kept – the rest – 64 of them – submitted to the chain saw.

At the same meeting Stolte pointed to a situation where 64 trees had been cut down for a small development on New Street.

Lisa Kearns, the Councillor for the ward in which the development was taking place, apparently wasn’t aware of the trees coming down.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.