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Changes and updates for Woodland bylaw

Changes were made to help clarify aspects of bylaw

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The region is one step away from making its woodland bylaw more clear.

A report was given to the region’s planning and economic development committee with a list of the changes made by staff, which include additional definitions and clarifications, as well as a name change for the bylaw.

The bylaw was originally called the “Region of Durham Woodland Conservation and Management Bylaw,” but will now be the “Regional Woodland Bylaw.”

Changes to the definitions of “hedge row,” “key natural features,” and more were included in the updated bylaw.

The definition of “normal farm practices” has been revised. It now includes any farm practice “as defined by the Green Belt Plan.” The bylaw also does not include farmers who are engaged in normal farm practices, and permit fees for said practices are waived for “bona fide farmers.”

The definition of “woodland” has also been updated, and a requirement that agricultural land not in production for more than 15 years be automatically subject to the bylaw is now removed.

“The removal of this provision allows discretion for considering tree removal on lands that were originally cleared for agricultural practices,” reads the report.

Pickering Councillor Maurice Brenner says he thinks the name change is a “wise choice.” He also asked if the region has had any discussions with the lower tier municipalities about enforcing the bylaw.

According to Commissioner of Planning and Economics Brian Bridgeman, the bylaw pertains to areas of one hectare or more.

“If we’re talking about a wooded area less than one hectare, then that would be the jurisdiction of the lower tiered municipality,” he explains.

He continues by noting the region has its own “tree bylaw expert,” and a bylaw enforcement officer who is retained on a contractual basis to enforce the woodland bylaw.

“We are able to administer it at that point without the use of lower tier bylaw enforcement officers,” he says.

Uxbridge Councillor Gord Highet asked staff about the timeline of the bylaw, and if it will be implemented immediately after the next council meeting, or if there will be a delay.

“We are looking to move with this immediately,” says Manager of Plan Implementation Lino Trombino.

Ultimately, no councillors were opposed, and the revised bylaw now heads to regional council for approval.