COLUMN: Of mice, men and criminal acts

“Ackkkkkk!” screeched the keeper of the kitchen. “There’s mouse (insert colloquial term for excrement here) on the counter!”

COLUMN: Of mice, men and criminal acts

“Ackkkkkk!” screeched the keeper of the kitchen. “There’s mouse (insert colloquial term for excrement here) on the counter!”

Upon inspection I, on the other hand, would have dismissed the little turds as errant coffee grounds from the maker nearby.

Off to the basement to locate the collection of traps. Sure enough, next morning two of the little blighters had expired shortly after sampling shaved almond slices infused with peanut butter placed on the trap triggers. Works every time!

Surprising was that, after going all winter without mice invading the house, they’d show up in the spring. Then again, there have been some remarkable non-seasonal events on Sumas Mountain recently.

Like Friday night for instance. That clatter outside certainly wasn’t Santa and his eight reindeer on the roof, but Air One lighting the way for a police raid on a neighbouring house. Unfortunately, I wasn’t home when the cavalry arrived in the area, so I missed a lot of the excitement that armoured vehicles and armed tactical units engender.

I’ll bet, however, that when flash-bangs (commonly called stun grenades) were tossed into the outbuildings to ensure submissive compliance of anyone inside, my horses were as equally ‘defecatory’ as the mice when the devices, combined with the night-time helicopter noise, were detonated. By the time I arrived home, the horses only seemed intrigued by all the flashing lights as the cops kept mountain roads closed for a few hours while the raid progressed.

And other than a flurry of phone calls next morning from other neighbours requesting “details,” of which I was basically lacking, tranquility has been, at least for now, restored.

What has not yet been restored is the rights of ownership of the trees on private property. The bylaw that requires owners to obtain the city’s permission to prune or cut down your own trees is still in effect, and still carries punitive costs.

Yet, in the news last week was a fellow who, somewhere “in the Old Clayburn area,” in essence, stole a large maple tree by cutting it down on private or public land for its exotic grain. Certain maples contain “curly” or figured wood which is used to make attractive wooden instruments such as violins and guitars. Who knew Stradivarius and Gibson would spawn eco-terrorism!

The guy was caught cutting down someone else’s tree, was charged and eventually a week or so ago fined $500 in provincial court.

Which suggests, according to the City of Abbotsford, crime pays because if you cut down your own tree, the city will levy upwards of $546 for every foot of trunk diameter, plus make you pay to plant three more trees … a cost upwards of $1,500!

I’ve harped on this before, but until that bylaw is fully repealed, not simply relaxed or rewritten, I’ll continue to harangue the city about it. It is an infringement of our rights of ownership and is a blatant cash-grab.  To develop land for housing, schools, subdivision streets, churches, etc., trees must come down. And for all those projects, there are already other bylaws in place that require some sort of reforestation or city recompense before they are approved.

Someone, it appears, has forgotten that Abbotsford’s theme is “City in the Country.”

And if you are wondering whether I want to clear-cut my property – almost all the trees (far more than when I acquired the land a quarter-century ago) were planted by me. In fact, on my property, and on virtually all neighbouring properties, there are far more trees today than there were 25 years ago.

So let this be a lesson. If you want to cut down a tree in Abbotsford, steal someone else’s . . . it’s far cheaper than taking a chainsaw to one of your own. Of course, if you stole other stuff as well, you might trigger the kind of police response that tied up my neighbourhood Friday night, and that might be unpleasant.


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