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Will Abbbotsford's tree protection bylaw be pruned?

Abbotsford is taking another look at its tree protection bylaw.

Residents of Sumas Mountain who attended a town hall meeting last week were told that the bylaw is under review and could soon be changed to exclude the rural areas.

Currently, the bylaw requires residents to acquire a tree-cutting permit. Trees located on Agricultural Reserve Land (ALR) are exempt.

“This was an urban tree bylaw that does not work well in the rural areas,” said Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman.

He said there are more trees on Sumas Mountain now than 40 years ago, and the bylaw is “getting in the way of people trying to maintain their properties.”

Staff have made a recommendation that the bylaw could be changed to exclude rural areas, such as Sumas Mountain.

This issue has yet to go before council, which would need to approve any bylaw changes.

The city has been hosting periodic public meetings with mountain residents since 2008 when Area H amalgamated with the city. The purpose is to allow residents to voice concerns regarding everything from taxation to gravel trucks to the city’s environmental plan for the area, which may be on hold.

“Development is not going to happen on Sumas Mountain for many, many years,’ said Banman.

With that in mind, city staff has recommended that the city puts a halt to the environmental plan for now.

That issue will also be sent back to council.

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