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Property owners on the Bench in Terrace fined for tree removal

Trees were cut to enhance views
This power line clearing is carved through forest on the same hill where several property owners were fined by the City of Terrace in 2020 for cutting down trees to enhance views. Photo taken Aug. 28. (Jake Wray/Terrace Standard)

The City of Terrace has recently fined several property owners on the Bench for cutting down trees to enhance views on the hill above the Howe Creek trail.

The City’s official community plan designates the hill and the Howe Creek corridor below as an environmentally sensitive area, said David Block, director of development services for the City. Additionally, the official community plan protects all steep slopes within City limits, he said, because human activities such as tree removal can cause erosion, destruction of animal habitat, and other issues.

“The protection of private property, infrastructure, and natural areas from potential landslide and slope failure is of priority to the City of Terrace,” he told The Terrace Standard.

Block said the City has occasionally granted permission for property owners to remove trees, but only for property owners who applied for a development permit, allowing the City to set requirements or limits on the removal.

“Three residential property owners have been fined in 2020 for tree cutting and clearing on the steep slopes related to view enhancement … in one case from [City-owned] land adjacent to a residential parcel,” he said. ”The Howe Creek corridor and forested escarpment are sensitive landscapes that are valued by our community and that we want to ensure are protected from erosion and habitat destruction, and that is the ultimate goal of the City in enforcing these regulations.”

“We request that anyone within the Howe Creek corridor, or owners of view lots on the escarpment areas, contact the planning department prior to undertaking any tree removals or land alterations to avoid facing similar penalties.”

The City can issue fines of $500 for unsanctioned tree-cutting, according to the City’s Ticket Information Utilization bylaw, which lays out fine amounts for various offences.

The City is planning an information campaign to make property owners aware of the regulations.

“We are working on some new educational documentation to help ensure that property owners who may be unfamiliar with the regulations affecting their property are aware of the permitting process,” he said.

Block said unsanctioned tree removal has been an issue along the Howe Creek corridor for decades. The City commissioned a study of environmentally sensitive areas within city limits that was completed in 1998. The findings were incorporated into the official community plan, resulting in the protection of steep slopes and specific areas (such as the Howe Creek corridor.)