Nanaimo man fined for cutting trees to improve property’s view


WATCH: A Nanaimo man will have to fork over a hefty fine after cutting down 25 trees on his waterfront property. He did so in the summer of 2016 without getting special permission from the city to improve the view from his property. The decision that will cost him $84,000. Kendall Hanson reports.

When Jim Mercier was purchasing a property on White Eagle Terrace in June of 2016, he asked the city about cutting down some trees to improve the view on his property facing Departure Bay.

The city told him the trees were in a protected zone and couldn’t be removed without special permission.

Slope stability was one of the city’s main concerns and four of the trees were of special significance because of their size.

“Mr. Mercier to our knowledge didn’t apply for a permit at all,” said Jarrett Plonka, the City of Nanaimo’s lawyer from Dominion GovLaw. “I don’t think he did and so what essentially happened was that he operated on the philosophy that it was better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission and cut the trees down anyway.”

This past summer Mercier, a former city council candidate, pleaded guilty to 25 counts of cutting down trees without a permit.

Mercier declined to comment to CHEK News.

The city’s lawyer called for a penalty as high as $140,000, in the end, the judge fined Mercier $84,000.

“This is not just about Mr. Mercier,” said Plonka. “His case is about general deterrence and showing the public that tree cutting will not be treated as a mere license fee with fines. That there could be serious consequences for unlawful cutting of trees.”

A report said it was not readily apparent the tree cutting has caused the slope to become more unstable but the judge noted the property’s appraised value had increased because of the tree cutting by an estimated $65,000.

He ordered Mercier to pay the entire fine by September of 2020.

Mercier purchased the 22,000 square foot lot in the summer of 2016 for $295,000.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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