Owner, cutter charged with illegally axing trees
Google camera inadvertently catches tree removal
Naoibh O'Connor, Vancouver Courier
Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The former homeowner of an Olympic Street property, her daughter, and a tree cutter have been charged with violating the city's old tree bylaw for illegally removing trees without permit or permission.
Last May, 23 cedar, cypress and evergreen trees were axed on the property at 6060 Olympic St., which sits between Southwest Marine Drive and Musqueam Park. The property consists of two legal lots side by side, measuring 66 feet by 116 feet.
Margaret Claire Burnyeat was listed as the owner until June 24, 2009.
The city will fine owners of the property at 6060 Olympic St. for illegally cutting more than 20 trees.View Larger Image View Larger Image
The city will fine owners of the property at 6060 Olympic St. for illegally cutting more than 20 trees.
(photo by Jason Lang)
Theresa Beer, a spokesperson with the City of Vancouver, said Elizabeth and Margaret Burnyeat and Michael Safronick of Michael Safronick Tree Care Limited, have also been charged.
A new tree bylaw came into effect Jan. 1, but the charges apply to the old bylaw in which the penalty range is between $500 and $20,000 per tree.
The incident occurred on a weekend between May 11 and May 22, 2009. Several neighbours and another tree removal company alerted the city about tree removals.
Beer said a permit issued May 14 allowed two trees to be cut down. "Those two trees that were properly permitted were taken off the total of the trees that fall under the tree bylaw," she said. "Trees are defined under the bylaw by the height and diameter, so experts had to come in and technically assess the trees that were taken down by the stumps that were remaining."
The next court appearance for all three charged is Jan. 27. The city will be making an application that a provincial court hear the case and the city hopes it will be completed within the year, according to Beer.
The tree removal was inadvertently caught on camera by a specially equipped passing vehicle taking pictures for Google Street Views, which links pictures of city streets to Google's mapping program. The photograph shows a truck on the site, along with a couple of workmen, tree debris, and a line of tree stumps along the length of a fence. Beer is uncertain if or how the Google photograph will be used in the prosecution.
"Our city's legal department is aware of that. How they will use that as evidence, I'm not clear. But it is an interesting new dimension, perhaps, of legal evidence," Beer said.
The Burnyeats could not be reached by the Courier's deadline. A call to Mike Safronick was not returned by the Courier's deadline.
The new owner relisted the Olympic Street property in September 2009 for $1,648,000 million. The listing pointed out the site included two properties with an old house sitting in the middle of 6060 and 6068 Olympic. The description also stated, "No big trees nor oil tank."
A new tree bylaw--the Protection of Trees bylaw--came into effect Jan. 1. Violators can be fined $500 to $10,000 for unlawfully removing trees.
A permit is required for every tree removed above 20 centimetres in diameter measured at 1.4 metres from the ground, regardless of whether the property owner is developing the land. Owners must post the tree permit in a location visible from an adjacent street during the removal, relocation or replacement of a tree.
© Vancouver Courier 2010