Contractor cuts down an estimated 80 trees without permits in Nanaimo


The City of Nanaimo is launching an investigation after an estimated 80 trees were cut down on a nearly six-acre property without any permits.

The property is zoned industrial and the owner has plans to develop it but it hadn’t registered any plans with the city when a contractor started clearing the land.

When Mindy Bourne saw workers clearing trees off the site earlier this month in South Nanaimo she felt something wasn’t right. It was nesting season and the trees were full of birds.

When she enquired City of Nanaimo staff eventually told her the developer did not have any permits to remove trees.

“I felt sick to my stomach and I started thinking about the wildlife and the birds and how everybody else has to adhere to the rules. Why should they be any different?” said Bourne.

The city ordered the contractor to stop working at the property at 924 Old Victoria Road but not before dozens of trees were cut.

“The preliminary counts look like it’s in the neighbourhood of probably about 80 trees were taken down from the site but there has to be an investigation to determine that,” said Dean Mousseau, City of Nanaimo’s Environmental Protection Manager.

According to the city’s bylaw, a tree is classified as being more than 6 centimetres in diameter.

The property’s owner is Top Down Investments. President Guy Bouchard says there was a miscommunication with their contractor who was clearing some brush and debris to quantify the rock on the site.

“We apologize. We’re not the kind of company to do things incorrectly…and we take full responsibility…we’re going to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said Bouchard.

Mousseau said Top Down Investments is relatively new to Nanaimo and there may be some unfamiliarity with the city. He said the company has indicated it will cooperate with the process.

“They’re going to assist with the city in the investigation to determine how many trees and what species and size those trees were removed because this information will be required for any future development permitting on the property to determine tree replacement,” said Mousseau.

The city’s bylaws set out fines ranging from $500 to $10000 per tree depending on the tree’s significance and the egregiousness of the offences. It could be delivered as a fine, a summary conviction through the courts or a consent agreement

“Whereby the property owner and the city sort of agree about the magnitude of the offence was and what the penalty would be for that,” said Mousseau.

Bourne questions how this could’ve been a mistake when any contractor should know it’s nesting season.

“I just don’t want to see other developers/contractors do this. I mean it’s all wrong on every level,” said Bourne.

Mousseau encourages people to report potential bylaw infractions to the city because the more time passes after the infraction, the more difficult it is for the city to properly follow up.

Last month a contractor and a property management company were hit with more than $200,000 in fines after they allegedly damaged or cut down over 100 protected trees in Courtenay.

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Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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