Tuesday - Feb. 13, 2024 - Chopping the chops

☀ High 7C

Good morning!

You’ll notice your newsletter today doesn’t have the main feature story box. We’re going to do this a couple times this week. It’s not a punishment or a sign of anything negative. Instead, it’s probably something I should have done earlier. We get a ton of great feedback for our larger stories. But those take a while to complete. Unfortunately, trying to fill that hole every day means we don’t have enough time to actually finish those stories in a timely manner. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to take the time we’d spend scrambling to fill that main slot and use it to wrap up some fun and interesting stories. Hopefully, you’ll barely notice it; we’ll still have important local stories in The Agenda slot. But it should result in more engaging, better-written stories and less-stressed-out writers. Thanks, as always, for your patience.

– Tyler

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Traffic & Weather

🌤 Local forecast: Langley | Chilliwack | Abbotsford | Hope

🚘 Driving today? Check the current traffic situation via Google, and find DriveBC’s latest updates.

🛣 Click here for links to road cameras across the Fraser Valley, including those for the Coquihalla, Highway 7, Hope-Princeton, Fraser Canyon, and Highway 1 in Langley and Abbotsford.

Need to Know

🐟 BC First Nations say the federal government has botched its management of BC’s fisheries because of embedded conflicts of interest [Canadian Press]

🎬 The Twilight Drive-In confirmed that 2024 will be its final season [Vancouver Sun]

🐥 A silver crow has turned heads in Chilliwack for years; now locals are trying to determine its age [Chilliwack Progress]

👉 Langley Township is holding an open house next week for residents to provide input on the future of the 200 Street corridor [Langley Township]

🎤 Chilliwack resident Joshua Leventhal is nominated for a Juno Award for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year [CBC]

🚧 Mission is now 572 affordable housing units short of a target it set itself four years ago [Mission Record]

🚓 A man has been charged after allegedly robbing a Mission fast food restaurant [Mission Record]

👉 An Abbotsford school trustee is running for the BC Conservative Party; Korky Neufeld has stepped down as chair of the school board [Abbotsford News]

💁‍♂️ A Chilliwack mom is raising money for a fellow hockey parent with inoperable cancer [Fraser Valley Today]

🔥 Chilliwack firefighters snuffed out a blaze in a kitchen [Fraser Valley Today]

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The Agenda

If you want the City of Abbotsford to chop down one of its own trees, you may soon have to pay a $5 fee. 📷 City of Abbotsford

Abbotsford plots new tree-chopping rules

Abbotsford is considering putting together a list of significant trees, while potentially making it harder for residents to chop down large trees on their own property.

The city has been working to update its tree protection rules for more than seven years. The city has repeatedly been told it is losing its urban forest at a rapid pace, but changes to staunch that loss have been slow. Every couple years, staff or councillors have mentioned ongoing work to tweak the rules, without a new bylaw actually ever coming before the city’s politicians. The rules pose a political challenge because residents tend to highly value large trees that exist on other properties, while wanting to preserve the right to chop down foliage that threatens their own views or yard plans.

Eventually, instead of creating a new bylaw, the city moved to first lay out a new urban forest strategy. And now, having finally put together that broader strategy (two years ago), city staff are again plotting actual new changes to Abbotsford’s tree rules. Staff have put together more than a dozen recommendations for council to consider. Those include requiring that property owners no longer be allowed to remove trees two-feet in diameter and larger because they they are deemed to be a nuisance or obstruction. Staff suggest that such trees only be allowed to be removed “to prevent significant, immediate damages to infrastructure, structures or other valuable property only when other mitigation options other than tree removal are not viable.”

Staff also suggest requiring property owners to get an arborist or forester report before asking to be allowed to remove trees because they are dangerous or unhealthy.

Another recommendation is that the city compile a list of “significant trees” on its own land, then use the same criteria to identify trees worth protecting on private property.

Finally, the new plan suggests that if private individuals want the city to remove trees on its own property, they must pay the “amenity value” of that tree. Staff provide two examples, including a large Douglas Fir near South Fraser Way deemed to have a value of about $95,000. (An amenity value is an attempt to put a dollar figure on a tree’s emission-reduction, water-filtering, and air-pollution-reducing contributions to a community.)

Before going to council, the recommendations will be discussed by the city’s Development, Transportation and Infrastructure Advisory Committee on Thursday. You can view the presentation here.

Hope sketches out flag policy

Hope staff have sketched out a new flag policy that would govern how the municipality uses its new removable flagpole. As The Current reported last month, the district voted to raise the pride flag in June and to purchase a new removable pole that would allow that flag and others be erected.

In Hope and elsewhere, requests to raise the pride flag have led some to say that doing so could force a municipality to raise the flag of a cause it objects to. Hope’s draft flag policy, which council was scheduled to discuss Monday evening, seeks to avoid that issue through fairly simple means: by saying it won’t raise flags for causes it objects to. Specifically, the policy says the district won’t approve flag raisings for causes that “support groups, organizations or events that promote beliefs contrary to any other District policy.” Flags for religious and political organizations also won’t be flown, if the policy is approved. You can view the policy here.

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Catch up

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