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Hundreds of tickets handed out for cutting or damaging protected trees

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A contractor and a property manager are facing hundreds of fines from the City of Courtenay for damaging protected trees.

The city says the damages have not been proven in court, but 107 trees were either cut down or damaged during work on 20th Street near Lambert Drive in December 2021. The trees were in a riparian area of the Piercy Creek watershed and are protected.

A total of 214 tickets have been given out, 107 for both the contractor and land management company. The city says the fines total $107,000 for each party ($1,000 per tree).

Courtenay mayor Bob Wells says the city is handing out heavy consequences for these damages. He adds they are still working through the investigation.

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“These investigations take time,” said Wells. “We’ve added two more team members to bylaw enforcement which has proven to be essential when dealing with complex issues like this one – and in this case, protecting fish and wildlife habitat.”

The recipients of the tickets have 14 days to either pay the fine or dispute them, according to the city. The city says they will not be commenting further on the issue.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has also been notified because the incident happened near a river, according to the city.

The city says tree-cutting permits are required on properties that are protected or when removing trees from environmentally sensitive areas or steep slopes.

They are also needed for other species like Garry Oak and Pacific Dogwood. They add permits are also needed for properties of around an acre in size.

More information about the regulations can be found on the city’s website.

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