Re: Tree activist upset over mayor's reaction, Burnaby NOW, June 28.
I was in attendance to support the three women who have worked tirelessly to convince the mayor and council to strengthen Burnaby's tree bylaw.
Clearly, the "Green Champion" was irritated by the women's suggestion that Burnaby was not environmentally friendlier than Vancouver.
The mayor referenced the oft-quoted statistic that the city has about 25 per cent of its area as parkland, the fact that Vancouver covered the vast majority of its creeks many years ago while Burnaby did not, and the city's recognition as the "best run" municipality in Canada.
The whole exchange was uncomfortable to witness.
These citizens have been working within the system for many months, making little progress in convincing council to fix a loophole that gives irresponsible developers and property owners permission to essentially clear cut lots with ecologically significant trees on them.
A walk through any neighbourhood where private construction is taking place makes it clear that the rules need beefing up.
There has been little action by the city to review the bylaw, and their petition of over 500 names was virtually forgotten.
They look at stronger legislation in neighbouring municipalities and wonder how an "environmentally friendly"council can allow this to continue. In the venue of the council chambers, where eight councilors and a mayor hold all the power, they did not deserve to be browbeaten by His Worship while his seven Burnaby Citizens' Association councillors sat mutely, (Coun. Richard Chang was absent).
While a few cities such as Vancouver are making modest efforts to correct their past mistakes, it seems Burnaby is content to rest on its laurels, wait for the problems to worsen, and allow developers to dictate environmental policy.
Rick McGowan, Burnaby