Thursday, October 04, 2012

Red means...

Autumn leaves across North America seem to be serving as yet another indicator of climate change. Trees are showing off an especially spectacular range of colours this year. Apparently, it’s owing to a combination of the dry conditions so many parts of the continent have endured combined with unexpectedly warm temperatures.

But the paranoid (and often victorious) side of my brain comes up with yet another theory – one that at least offers an explanation for the unusually brilliant shades of red we’re seeing around here.

Mid-September saw an overzealous Surrey developer engage in a weekend clearcutting spree. Even though neighbours alerted officials, by the time anyone in authority arrived, the damage had been done, with more than double the permitted area of land cleared of trees, including a chunk of federally protected salmon habitat.

And now the city’s ruling has come down against the developer – a tap on the wrist of just over $175,000 – and about $150,000 of that is a security deposit which will be returned if restoration work is completed in three years.

The actual fine for removing trees not covered in the original permit (the city says 14 extra trees were taken, the developer claims only 9) is only $25,400 – a pittance, and one that will surely be passed along to prospective home buyers. After all, such fines are often viewed as simply the ‘cost of doing business’.

But why, I wonder, is the fine so low? The City of Surrey’sTree bylaw specifies a fine ‘up to $10,000’ for each tree taken illegally. So why were these trees so grossly undervalued with fines levied at perhaps not even $2,000 each?

If this is how seriously Surrey takes its tree protection by-laws, it’s no wonder trees keep falling in the name of somebody’s definition of progress.

But oh yes, back to my theory about why the trees are turning such a bright red this year. It’s plain enough; they’re embarrassed by what’s happened – as should we all be.

No comments: